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FASTER than the speed of sound.

Two and a half times faster than the speed of sound to be precise. 2,850 feet per second. 1,943 miles per hour. Yep, whichever way you look at it a shell leaves the barrel of a 4.5in main gun at quite a rate. The gun here belongs to Her Majesty’s Ship Portland.

The location? Somewhere in the South Atlantic. The reason? A ‘quickdraw’ exercise to fend off (imaginary in this instance) waterborne attackers. The ship’s company have to be quick on the draw... hence the name. For


Devonport frigate will be ‘enjoying’ a South Atlantic winter, chiefly around the Falklands... where it’s wet and windy (as opposed to the summer... where it’s wet and windy).

the next six months, the


h e

rounded the memorable day off in style. Barely had the party ended than another one was beginning in Rio. Cocktail parties aren’t renowned for raucous shenanigans, but they are part-and-parcel of RN business abroad.





Still at least the 9,000-mile journey south permitted catching the sun before winter sets in in earnest. There was a good deal of work to squeeze in


before there could be any thought of topping up on tans.

The passage south was dominated by upper deck husbandry to prepare Portland for the rigours of

manner of damage control/helicopter crash/fire- fighting exercises to keep the ship’s company on their toes. As the warship drew closer to the Cape Verde Islands, the emphasis switched to counter- smuggling operations. You might remember a deal signed last summer aboard HMS Gloucester between the UK and Cape Verde as the two nations agreed to work together to tackle drug trafficking in these waters.

Drawing closer to Cape Verde also meant much warmer weather, warm enough to permit ‘hands to bathe’, church services on the flight deck, even an afternoon of bucketball (won comprehensively by the WOs’/CPOs’ mess... all accusations of cheating have been forcefully brushed aside). The visit to Mindelo was brief – basically a

fuelling stop – but it did allow POET(ME) Ben Petrie to clock up some miles on more stable terrain, taking him closer to his charity run target of 1,000 miles. The senior rating was touched by the plight of

the South Atlantic winter, plus all

of the great schism in Brazilian society between the haves and have-nots. They headed to two homes for the city’s s eet children run by charity Task Brasil: Casa Jimmy (named for Led Zeppelin guitarist Jimmy Page) and Casa Roger (named for Roger Turner who helped Rio’s poorest kids) to carry out some DIY.

street ch

betw The



After hosting a lunch for the Ambassador to Brazil, Alan Charlton, there was a cocktail party (despite what you might have read in the nationals, the good old ‘Cocker’s P’ is still going...) for Rio dignitaries, plus Brazilian

m ita

military offi cials, ending with a traditional cerem

Dressed in whites, a good number of the ship’s company toured the sights


emonial sunset. D

of the great Brazilian city – Sugar Loaf Mountain, Copacabana, the cable cars and statue of Christ the Redeemer. But 30 sailors were also reminded



While the RN 1st XV were edging an historic victory over the Army at Twickenham, the ship’s rugby team took on a select Rio RFC XV which boasted players from South Africa, Fiji, Australia, New Zealand and Argentina. Sadly, we cannot report an historic RN victory on this occasion... The principal reason for Portland’s stop off in Rio was to showcase industry.

UK fi rms used the frigate as a backdrop to show off their wares, while visitors were given a tour of the ship by her crew. Otherwise, the four days in Rio, says Cdr Knott,

British Twelve

provided “a great stopover”. It’s certainly rather more lively than the waters which are home for the next few months: Mare Harbour in the Falklands (bleak is an understatement). And so it’s down to business. At East Cove Military Port, HMS Portland and York (more from her on page 4) formally traded places and the Type 23 assumed the mantle of defending British interests in the South Atlantic.

four-year-old Archie Barton who was left severely disabled by meningitis. To help the youngster, Ben has vowed to run 1,000 miles while Portland’s away – which means clocking up five miles a day, wherever the 23 is, whatever the weather.

crossed the imaginary line which divides the Northern Hemisphere from the Southern. So that meant a visit from King Neptune (aka Executive Warrant Offi cer WO Garry Smith) and his court.

And talking of 1,000 miles... From Mindelo it’s a little over 1,000 miles’ sailing to the Equator. More than half the ship’s company had never

One hundred and four ship’s company paid homage to Neptune (including CO Cdr Mike Knott, who received a shave and a dunking) encouraged by bears, policemen and a bevy of hirsute mermaids, nurses and other strange characters. A wardroom-sponsored barbeque

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