Downtime on the front line

Downtime on the front line

The Royal Navy and Royal Marines Charity is unique among naval service charities in being the only charity to guarantee an Operational Welfare grant for the benefit of all those on ships and units serving on the front line. It’s our way of letting our sailors and marines know that we’re thinking of them and that we appreciate the service and sacrifice they are making when they are a long way from home.

“Many gathered on the flight deck in festive attire for a unique Christmas service with the sun beating down and the Pacific swell rolling us from side to side.”

On Boxing Day, HMS Montrose anchored off the Island in the Pacific and the entire ship’s company got the chance to go ashore to see first the iconic ancient statues, known as Moai, then the nearby quarry from which the stone came. This memorable run ashore culminated with downtime on the white coral sandy beach of Anakena in Rapa Nui National Park and a traditional Easter Island Curanto or BBQ, of meat, chicken, fish, taro, sweet potato and tapioca slow cooked in a hole in the ground with firewood and red-hot stones covered in plantain leaves.

Being away from loved ones over the Christmas period is especially hard, however, the sailors of HMS Montrose made the best of a combined Greenwich Hospital/RNRMC grant to help them enjoy the traditional events of the festive period, topped off with this once in a lifetime visit to the UNESCO World Heritage Site on Easter Island in the Pacific.

The Ship’s Chaplain, the Revd Peter Dixon, who held a Midnight Mass Service, 4 hours behind the UK, reflected:

“For many of us, this was our first Christmas away from home, let alone our first Christmas on board a warship, but in the retelling of the Nativity and the singing of carols, the spirit of Christmas flowed in abundance. As Christmas Day dawned, many gathered on the flight deck in festive attire for a unique Christmas service with the sun beating down and the Pacific swell rolling us from side to side.”

This is already a deployment of ‘firsts’ and incredible experiences for junior and senior sailors alike – crossing their first ocean when we traversed the Atlantic, transiting the Panama Canal, and now as part of our Pacific voyage we all get to enjoy a truly once in a lifetime opportunity to visit the ancient civilisation of Easter Island. Support by the Royal Navy and Royal Marines Charity for this visit has made our deployed Christmas very special.

Commander Conor O'Neill RN, Commanding Officer HMS MONTROSE

We have been able to put your grant to good use in improving the quality of life on board. Individual messes have each been able to use a portion to invest in their own living and sleeping quarters with purchases such as new televisions, mirrors, pictures and other homely additions. Particularly at a point when HMS ST ALBANS has spent such a large proportion of time away from friends and families in recent months, your ongoing support is of enormous benefit to us all and once again, thank you for your continued generous support from the entire Ship’s Company.

Commander Chris Ansell RN, Commanding Officer HMS ST ALBANS

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