May 8, 2020 – HMS Kent will today leave the Barents Sea after seven days of cold-weather operations in the icy waters of the Arctic Circle.
While many in the Armed Forces rightly continue to focus on supporting the national response to the Covid-19 pandemic, the ship’s company of HMS Kent have contributed to the Royal Navy’s commitment to global operations and ensuring we are prepared for future threats.
The ship has been working as part of a combined US and UK task group, practicing further integration with our allies and proving her ability to operate at sea in sub-zero temperatures hundreds of miles inside the Arctic Circle.
More than 1,200 military personnel from the UK and US have been involved – conducting key training in support of the UK’s Defence, while the UK Armed Forces continue support to the NHS and others in the fight against COVID-19.
Royal Navy’s Commander Operations Rear Admiral Simon Asquith said, “While sailors and marines in the UK support the national effort against COVID-19, the ship’s company of HMS Kent are hard at work ensuring that the Royal Navy remains capable of operating in the most challenging environments fundamental to the UK’s vital interests.
“The rules-based international system enables freedom on the high seas for all nations. The Arctic exemplifies this and is an area for cooperation on numerous issues, including security and trade.”
Commander Matt Sykes, the Commanding Officer of HMS Kent, said: “It has been rewarding to work in this part of the world and it is vitally important that the UK should take a strong interest in maintain stability and security in the region.
“Over the last week we have enhanced our ability to work with our US allies while also demonstrating the Royal Navy’s ability to operate in the region, now and in the future.”
The ship has been working alongside destroyers USS Donald Cook, USS Porter and the USS Roosevelt as well as fast combat support ship USNS Supply.
Engineering Technician Cameron Warren said: “It has been interesting to work in the Arctic region but also surprisingly normal. It has shown me that our training really does prepare us for anything. I have enjoyed the surreal experience of being able to go on the upper deck at any time of day or night as it’s always light outside.”
To commemorate the 75th anniversary of VE Day, the Portsmouth-based warship marked the occasion in the permanent daylight of the Arctic with a poignant remembrance service on her flight deck.
It was especially personal for Cdr Sykes, whose great-grandfather Chief Petty Officer Frank Hodges served in the light cruiser HMS Edinburgh in the Arctic Convoys.
Cdr Sykes said: “It has been a privilege to operate my own ship in the same area as my great-grandfather and it is only fitting that we took time to pause and remember all of those who fought in this challenging, but also beautiful, place.”
In the last 12 months, HMS Kent has operated around the world and seen the full spectrum of challenging conditions in the past year, having operated in the high temperatures of the Gulf last year before taking up her tasking in the north Atlantic and high north.
The ship’s activity plays a key role in the defence of the United Kingdom. The Royal Navy continues to conduct essential operations around the world ensuring the defence of the UK’s global interests now and in the future.