October 22, 2021

Mersey comes to Cayman Islands

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Lieutenant Commander Richard Hewitt RNHMS Mersey will visit George Town, Grand Cayman in February as part of her continued efforts to support UK Overseas Territories in the Caribbean.

HMS Mersey is one of the Royal Navy’s four River Class Offshore Patrol Vessels.
With a top speed of 21kts, a range of 10,000nm and a pair of Pacific 22 Rigid inflatable boats she is ideally suited for boarding operations and if required, humanitarian and disaster relief operations.

At 80m in length and a draft of under 5m, she also has the ability to visit smaller islands and ports that wouldn’t normally be accessible to the Royal Navy’s Frigates and Destroyers.

Mersey left the UK in early January and will be deployed on Atlantic Patrol Task (North) until July.

She will provide security and assurance to the UK’s overseas territories in the Caribbean, visiting all 6 during her time in the region.

Mersey will also reinforce trade links with Central America and reaffirm relationships with foreign partners, including the Mexican Navy. She will also take part in the multinational exercise Trade Winds 16 in June. Additionally she will conduct counter-narcotics patrols with a US Coast Guard Law Enforcement Detachment team embarked for boarding operations.

Throughout the deployment she will be on standby to assist with disaster relief operations, carrying emergency relief stores including food and water and among her 48 crew is a doctor and medical team. The ship can make ten tonnes of fresh water per day and is also able to embark shipping containers of aid and equipment if required, using her own cranes.

For her visit to Grand Cayman, members of the Ship’s Company will conduct an exercise with the Royal Cayman Islands Police Marine Unit to improve understanding of each other’s capabilities. Mersey will then host an evening reception, tours for local student groups and several of her sailors will proceed ashore on a community outreach project.

The Commanding Officer of HMS Mersey, Lt Cdr Richard Hewitt said “I’m looking forward to bringing Mersey to Grand Cayman and to continue to show the Royal Navy’s commitment to UK Overseas Territories, as well as working with organisations such as the Royal Cayman Islands Police Marine Unit.”

Lieutenant Commander Richard Hewitt RN
Attending Britannia Royal Naval College in 2002, Richard Hewitt trained at sea in HM ships Cumberland and Glasgow before taking up his first appointment as the Navigating Officer of the mine hunter Chiddingfold in early 2004.

He navigated again immediately after and joined the Type 42 destroyer Exeter in 2006, deploying as far as the South Atlantic, Mediterranean, Black and Barents Seas; all in just over two years.

Selected as the top Principle Warfare Officer graduate of 2010 and promoted to Lieutenant Commander, Richard joined the frigate HMS Iron Duke as the Gunnery Officer.

He quickly assumed the role of the ship’s Operations Officer and sailed for the Gulf and Indian Ocean tasking which notably included delivering naval gunfire into Libya in support of NATO’s 2011 ‘Op Ellamy’ mission during the homeward passage.

After a short assignment to Flag Officer Sea Training (FOST), Richard was appointed as the (unknowingly last) Navigator of the aircraft carrier Illustrious.

Sailing for East of Suez operations again in 2013 as part of the ‘Cougar’ Task Group, this wide-reaching deployment also required the ship to provide rapid humanitarian aid to the typhoon devastated Philippines as part of ‘Op Patwin’.
Richard was selected for Sea Command in mid-2014 and took Command of the River Class patrol ship Mersey the following summer.

He lives in the South Hams with his wife and their two young boys; spare time is pre-dominantly spent with the family and, when time allows, playing the occasional round of golf.

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