The COVID-19 pandemic made many deployments considerably longer than usual and the extra time apart forced upon families has often been unplanned and unprepared for as a result of additional quarantine measures for sailors. Deployed in the Middle East in 2020, the crew of HMS MONTROSE spent several weeks alongside for maintenance, during which time they would have ordinarily been able to use nearby welfare and recreational facilities which included high speed connectivity capability. However, COVID-19 quarantine measures meant that there were no runs ashore and the ship’s company remained onboard was she was alongside, meaning that their only internet access was via the ship’s onboard wifi which had limited capabilities and was not able to support video calls. These restrictions had a significant impact on morale for both sailors and their loved ones back home, each contending with the challenges to normal daily life that Covid-19 presented independently of one another.
Thanks to a grant from the Royal Navy and Royal Marines Charity, the crew of HMS MONTROSE were provided with 4G SIM cards for personal devices, allowing them to stay in touch with family and friends and making a significant difference to the wellbeing of the crew and their nearest and dearest. If circumstances prevented them from being together, at least they had the wherewithal to remain in regular touch. ‘Thank you for the very generous donation made by the RNRMC’, said Lt Cdr Dave Barnes. ‘It’s made a huge difference to the Ship’s Company’.
Sometimes something very small can make the biggest difference and in this instance a simple SIM card provided sailors with a priceless gift of hearing a loved one’s voice or seeing their face, often alleviating concerns that had built up about how they were faring back home under an unprecedented period of national lockdown. CO of HMS MONTROSE, Cdr Oliver Hucker, explained why this particular grant has been so valuable to his crew:
“I’d like to say thank you to the Royal Navy and Royal Marines Charity. Through the Hardship Fund they have allowed my people digital freedom in a time of personal lockdown, both here and at home in the UK.”