03 May

Our affiliated Royal Navy ship HMS Dauntless, having spent the past few years in either Portsmouth or Birkenhead in refit, together with having major upgrades to the propulsion system finally deployed last year for seven months.

She is now back in Portsmouth, and the Master and I were invited to the dockyard on April 25th to present last year’s World Trader Award, and receive an update on our ship’s progress and future activities.

We were met at the Trafalgar Gate by Lt. Commander Andy Davey, Senior Warfare Officer, who has been the liaison between us and the ship for the past year. On reaching the berth, Dauntless is in dry dock presently but due to be back in the water on May 3rd, we were welcomed onboard by the ship’s captain, Commander Ben Dorrington.

On reaching the Wardroom we had the opportunity to meet the senior staff and have a detailed presentation of the ship’s activities over the past year. This has been predominately in the Caribbean, combating illicit drug trafficking, supporting humanitarian aid and disaster relief, and clearing vast quantities of plastic ocean waste to name but a few of the activities. However, one of the main responsibilities of Dauntless was the taking part in Exercise UNITAS; this was a joint international operation involving 26 ships, 3 submarines, 25 aircraft and over 7000 sailors.

We later had the privilege of spending time seeing the practical running of the ship with visits to the operations room, engineering and propulsion management department and time on the bridge. Many subjects were discussed but one of the most fascinating was the use of drones in modern warfare. They’re not always that easy to detect by radar and the recent taking out of 300 or so in the attack on Israel last month was a major technical achievement.

The main reason for our visit followed and we were entertained to lunch by the captain in his cabin where the Master presented our award to Petty Officer Clare. He is responsible for catering for the crew, as well as outside events while on deployment. One such was providing a reception for 150 guests at the Colombian Navy Bicentenary celebrations. There is a comprehensive citation about PO Clare but the following I hope gives a flavour of why he received our award.

“Assigned to HMS DAUNTLESS in January 2023, this individual inherited a sub-department suffering a number of significant challenges. Routines were not in place and morale low. He took decisive action, implementing complete overhaul of working practices. Immediately identifying a need for leadership and example in the galley, he donned his chef’s whites, coaching and mentoring his team to realise their potential; impressively doing this whilst concurrently overseeing Catering Office outputs. In 12 weeks leading to Operational Sea Training, DAUNTLESS saw the positive impact of his efforts. Standards increased as did morale.”

Before leaving it was a pleasure to be able to present the captain with a World Traders plaque to hang in the Wardroom to compliment World Traders banner that was originally given to HMS Manchester our first Royal Navy affiliation.

Michael Wren