After meeting everyone at Luton airport we had a relatively short flight to Gdansk, Poland. Where we boarded the ship and listened to the welcoming and safety briefs and then our time was our own. We all decided to go for dinner with most then returning to ship for an early night but some staying out later to make the most of the short stay in Poland.
The next day was spent sightseeing, soaking up the Polish atmosphere and generally enjoying the free day that we had. The next destination was Klaipeda in Lithuania and after a very rough transit, which saw most students put out of action, we were all relieved to be safely alongside. Once again, when we were secured (finished work) those who were not on watch ventured out into Klaipeda to explore. For those on watch the night usually consists of ensuring all chartwork was ready for the mornings chart checks and the ship was clean and up to the required standard.
However, as we were not sailing the next day it was a simple case of making sure all the brass work was polished and the ship was in a good condition. The following day we all ventured out to explore what Klaipeda had to offer before returning to the ship for lunch. After lunch we went out for some drinks before meeting up with the Ship’s Company and the crew and students from HMS Dasher. The night continued into the early hours of the morning and was enjoyed by all.
Early the next morning we set sail for Ventspils in Latvia and had a day of relatively plain sailing where we all took part in chartwork, being an Officer of the Watch and a Quartermaster. Unfortunately once we arrived in Ventspils it became apparent that we would be there for some time due to problems with the radar. In total we spent 6 days in Ventspils, where we educated ourselves in local history, took a tour of the town and visited a spa. Most of our time in Ventspils was spent on the beach, which was a two minute walk from the ship. We spent social days and evenings there as well as participating in some physical exercise along the beach on two occasions.
One of the highlights of Ventspils was the barbeque that was organised and carried out by the students. When we finally left Ventspils it was to sail to Kuressaare in Estonia. The transit was arduous with the decision to turn around and return being made and then unmade shortly after conditions at sea worsened. Once we arrived in Kuressaare we berthed in a small harbour called Roomassaare. Many activities were organised for us, such as pistol shooting, volleyball tournaments, HMS Express being open to the public and talking to a children’s summer camp. Once the eventful and enjoyable day was over we attended a barbeque and social in the evening before a run ashore in rig.
This was personally my favourite place that we visited and my favourite night of deployment. The free food and drinks put on for us were excellent and I felt completely welcomed, which led to a fantastic day and night.
Overall phase 2 of summer deployment was fantastic. Although we didn’t have many days sailing and missed many of the places we were supposed to visit, the people and the atmosphere surely made up for it.