Royal Navy vessel ends its survey work in Island waters

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THE Royal Navy's smallest commissioned vessel has been recalled to the UK from Jersey ahead of the arrival of the military's newest aircraft carrier – HMS Queen Elizabeth – in Portsmouth.

HMS Gleaner has been carrying out depth surveys off the south coast of Jersey since May, but last week received orders to cut short its time in the Island's waters and begin taking measurements in the Hampshire port.

Lieutenant Commander Marc Taylor, who has been captain of the 14.8 metre-long ship since November 2015, said that the Island had become a 'second home'.

He said: 'The original programme had us deployed in the Island until the end of July but we were recalled to Portsmouth last week to carry out survey work ahead of the arrival of HMS Queen Elizabeth.

'That will allow us to produce new charts so we can be absolutely confident that the approach channels into the harbour are deep enough to allow her to come into port without any problems.'

Speaking about why the vessel was in the Island, Lt Cdr Taylor said: 'The reliability of some of the Island's chart data, which had been put together in the 1980s, had been put under question and better high-resolution data was needed for the Navy to more confidently carry out high-speed navigation training.

'We were also in Jersey last year, tasked with surveying the area from Corbière to Demie des Pas. We actually found around 103 areas where the depths differed significantly to those on the charts.

'This time, we surveyed from Demie des Pas, through the Violet Channel and up towards St Catherine – there were a few rocks which had not been noted correctly but there was nothing too significant.'

Lt Cdr Taylor, who is originally from Wiltshire and who has served in the Royal Navy for 12 years, also said that both he and his nine-strong crew took full advantage of Jersey life before returning to the UK.

After arriving in the Island on 6 May, the boat's crew took part in Liberation Day celebrations before being tasked to carry out survey operations on the south coast. The sailors also took part in Falklands conflict commemorations and entered a team into the Jersey half-marathon.

However, Islanders are unlikely to see the 34-year-old HMS Gleaner gracing the Island's waters in the future as she is due to be decommissioned in December with a replacement vessel scheduled to come into service in May 2018.

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