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high water
Cdre Steve Chick and his predominantly-British Standing NATO Maritime
Group 2 (SNMG2) Staff found themselves embarked in Hellenic frigate Limnos
for two months, prior to rejoining British flagship HMS Chatham in the Gulf of
Aden. This is a snapshot of life on board. Pictures by PO(Phot) Owen King
AS A team we were somewhat decent food and a great ship’s better, with the commodore for things in Greek and they knowledgeable about English shirts, flags and scarves appeared
apprehensive about the
company. getting a rather plush cabin to say replied in English. football and had favourite teams. and cigarettes were chain-smoked
prospect of moving to a Greek
So it was with trepidation that the least. The staff Chops(R) bragged On joining Limnos these teams in front of the big screen.
unit, writes
we moved our equipment to the Throughout the move the
CPO Andy Welch.
of his prowess with the Greek were mostly Manchester United, Myself and Kostas had a daily
Limnos, temporary group flagship. ship’s company were extremely language, but proceeded to give us Liverpool, Chelsea etc, however, I Greece vs England PS3 football
Language, routines,
On arrival the ship’s EWO, welcoming, and every request or an example in Italian. It’s a start. managed to convert a lot of them rivalry which drew large crowds.
accommodation, laundry, satcom
Kostas, a friendly man with a great recommendation was greeted with Politicians could learn a lot to Birmingham City. Mess life was excellent;
connectivity, food and drink were
sense of humour, immediately enthusiasm and a can-do attitude. from the way sailors from different Some now follow Norwich backgammon, card games, chess
all areas of concern for us.
apologised for the accommodation, A social event was held on nations exchange information – we City (Staff CRS’ team) and even and PS3 into the early hours.
I was lucky as I speak a little
before we had even seen it. board Limnos which was very openly discussed all aspects of life, Crawley Town (PO(Phot)’s team). They had a ready smile, a sense
Greek; the rest of the lads were
The lockers were a little smaller well attended by all members of showed pictures of wives, children We have exchanged some useful of fun and an excellent sense of
busy buying ‘Learn Greek quick’
than we were used to, which led to the force, the other ships being and girlfriends and engaged in terms that you will not find in any humour. We were fully integrated,
a reassessment of kit – we all ended ITS Scirocco (Italy), TCG Goksu intellectual conversations about Greek or English phrasebooks – and banter flowed both ways – it
It was made doubly difficult
up with basic steaming kit and a set (Turkey) and tanker ESPS Marques
pretty much everything. Okay, along with the swear words, I have was easy to adopt the Greek way.
to leave because of the welcome of civvies plus bags of British nutty De La Ensenada (Spain).
mainly women and sport. explained that hot is redders and They had a great sense of
afforded to us by HMS and crisps, just in case the food was SNMG2 put to sea and the
But we did talk a lot about sausages are snorkers and so on, so national pride; every member of
Chatham – bespoke senior rates not to our liking. Brits settled into the routine of
our respective Navies, countries, if you’re on holiday in Greece and the ship’s company wore a Greek
accommodation, good mess life, Our staff officers fared much a Greek warship as they went
standard of living and pay. Sailors someone comes up to you and says
flag on his or her arm, and they
through exercises and training.
are sailors no matter where they’re “Hey up oppo, it’s flippin’ redders”
had a strong loyalty to their ship,
Nothing was too much trouble
from. you have SNMG2 Staff to thank.
with ship’s badges, t-shirts, pens,
for the Greeks, and it was clear we
Football was a common bond. Sunday was a big day in the
fleeces and baseball caps a very
both wanted to learn from each
Most of the ship’s company mess – football day, when the
common sight.
supported Panathinaikos or atmosphere was electric, passionate
They had access to the internet
Meal times and food took a little
Olympiakos, but were also very and extremely vocal, when club
with fewer restrictions, allowing
getting used to – breakfast tended them to use social sites such as
to be bread and honey or jam,
A Greek perspective
Facebook, giving them the ability
though British cereals and teabags to have visual and regular contact
did make the odd appearance. with loved ones back home.
The midnight meal was the There was a very relaxed but
best-attended – apart from RN
When we first heard that the words to say: it was great.
disciplined and quietly-efficient
personnel, who were all tucked up
Commodore and the Staff of Our British friends didn’t seem
atmosphere; everything was
in bed or on watch.
SNMG2 would come on board to have any particular problems
conducted without any fuss.
At night time the mess was
HS Limnos for two months, I with the accommodation,
They had bags of enthusiasm
packed from 8pm right through to
was a little bit worried, writes although entirely different from
and Greek hospitality was second
the early hours of the morning.
EWO/MAA Warrant Officer (FC) what they are used to.
to none.
Lunch seemed to be the main
Kostas Mavraganis HN. They have followed the ship’s
They spoke very highly of our
meal of the day and we were
First of all I wasn’t sure about routine and in the mess we
sea training package and admired
pleasantly surprised by the food
the quality of hospitality our have all had an excellent time.
our professional reputation – I am
– chicken and chips, spagbol,
ship could offer, considering We have all learned a lot
proud to say they held the Royal
souvlaki (pork kebabs) with a kind
its age and in comparison with from each other – and not only
Navy in high regard.
of pitta bread (really good), lentils
HMS Chatham, which I visited words that you cannot find in
We all enjoyed the experience,
with feta cheese, lots of salad and
in Piraeus, and secondly I didn’t the dictionary – and we came
made great friends and were very
olive oil.
know how we were going to get up with the conclusion, that
sorry to leave. Something that we
We quickly learnt that when ● Cdre Steve Chick in relaxed mood in the Chiefs’ Mess aboard HS
on with each other for so long, sailors are all the same, no
initially worried about turned into
Limnos. Top: The HS Limnos boarding teams prepare for a training the EWO offered you a glass of
knowing the cultural differences matter where they come from.
a fantastic experience that I for one
exercise home-made wine from Crete to
between North Europeans and I am happy to say that I have
will treasure for the rest of my life.
accompany your meal, you only
Mediterranean people. made new friends for a lifetime
It was with great sadness that
had one glass, otherwise the rest of
Now, after almost 40 days on and I am looking forward to
we had to leave our friends on
the day was quite a challenge.
board Limnos, I have only three meeting them again.
board Hellenic Ship Limnos.
Dinner was smaller, and there
was no duff; however some of us
were grateful for the opportunity
to shed some middle-age spread.
Laundry was done once a week,
and the ratings in the laundry
were ship’s company who did not
charge or get paid any extra.
That said, you sent your dirty
The 146th Annual General Meeting
dhobi screwed up in a bag and
it came back clean screwed up in
of the Royal Maritime Club, Queen
a bag...
I provided the Bridge team with
Street, Portsmouth, will be held in the
main broadcast announcements in
English, so every pipe was first in
Trafalgar Ballroom of the club on
Greek, followed by English.
The majority of the ship’s
Tuesday 20th April 2010 at 1030.
company spoke some English, and
tried very hard to make themselves
Commanding Officers are requested to
understood, as did we.
It got to the stage that we asked
encourage maximum attendance from
● Mess games or tactical
their ships and establishments.
training? Staff of different
nations enjoy down-time on
board HS Limnos
01273 467277
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