PALMA JUST days after setting sail from Palma last week, the Royal Navy frigate HMS Monmouth was involved in a daring Mediterranean rescue mission. The Monmouth spent a long weekend in Palma ahead of starting a nine-month deployment which will, providing her mission goes to plan, take her and the crew all the way to Sydney.

However, as Captain Tim Peacock told the Bulletin during their visit to Majorca, “anything can happen and we can be ordered to change course and mission to respond to any kind of situation.” No sooner said, than done.

As the Type 23 Duke class frigate set course from Palma for the Eastern Mediterranean the Monmouth took part in the dramatic rescue of all hands on board a stricken cargo ship.

The Monmouth's state-of-the-art Merlin helicopter, round which the Bulletin was given a guided tour by the mission commander who was involved in the rescue operation, was crucial to saving the lives of the eleven-strong Romanian crew on board the Afrodite S.

The Caribbean-registered ship put out a may-day call after her 45'000 tonne cargo of bulk cemeent shifted in a Force 6 gale and she started taking on water.

Responding to the distress call, the Monmouth was first at the scene and immediately launched its Merlin helicopter.
Fighting the gale force winds, the Merlin and its crew safely winched five of the eleven crew to safety before being joined by a Greek Search and Rescue helicopter which plucked up the remaining crew as the Merlin airlifted the men to dry land.

The 4.000 tonne HMS Monmouth has since reached her operations destination and is now on patrol as part of Operation Active Endeavour in the Eastern Mediterranean.