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29 Nov 2023

Fleet’s finest recognised in annual awards for best ships units and individuals

Fleet’s finest recognised in annual awards for best ships units and individuals
UK MOD © Crown copyright 2023
Royal Navy Press Release
One of the smallest formations in the Royal Navy – and operating some of its smallest vessels – has proved to be the most useful in paving the way for future operations.

Indeed, many people even within the Service may well not have heard of Mission System Team 3.

But senior officers at the RN’s Surface Flotilla have. And they’re mightily impressed – so much so they’ve awarded the team the Naval Capability Trophy.

Perhaps better known under the banner of Project Wilton – replacing existing minehunters with a combination for crewed, remotely-operated and autonomous systems – MST3 have been in the vanguard of future mine warfare, demonstrating “unwavering dedication, innovative spirit, and outstanding motivation” to not merely enhance operational capability but have also reshaped the Royal Navy's approach to their specialist branch of naval warfare.

Above all the team have demonstrated not only that they can perform missions carried out by Sandown and Hunt-class mine countermeasures ships, but they can outperform their traditional counterparts.

MST3 is one of more than 20 ships, units, teams and individuals singled out in the Surflot Excellence Awards (in the past also known as the Fleet Efficiency Awards) for their contributions to naval operations, security and effectiveness above the waves.

In addition to bragging rights with other ships and units, the title grants the winners permission to fly a blue and white pennant featuring hippocampi, mythical seahorses and the symbol of the Surface Fleet.

As the Fleet’s “hardest working” (nine months at sea out of the previous 12) big ship, HMS Albion took the ‘best capital ship’ title – a fitting end to six years of intensive operations – ahead of both aircraft carriers.

HMS Duncan, also away from her home base (Portsmouth) for nine months this year, is hailed as the best destroyer for her work with allies in the Mediterranean especially (she’s led a NATO task group since July), her achievements all the more impressive as nearly half her ship’s company are on their first deployment.

And the top frigate is HMS Portland, heavily in demand, maintaining an exceptionally high rate of availability for operations in the exacting North Atlantic and home waters, often for weeks at a time.

HMS Mersey, has been worked equally hard from Bootle to the Baltic, shares the Jersey Trophy as the best Batch 1 patrol ship, HMS Tamar named the best Batch 2 vessel; the latter has “excelled” at her Indo-Asia-Pacific mission in “setting a benchmark” for how navies operating in the region (not just the RN) uses similar patrol ships.

“The Surflot Excellence Awards are a fantastic opportunity to recognise the hard work and achievements of our people throughout the year,” said Commodore Paul Pitcher, Commander Surface Flotilla.

“2023 has been a demanding period requiring dedication and professionalism, and the Surface Flotilla has delivered across the board – BZ to all winners and runners-up!“

The full list of winners:

Naval Capability Trophy: MST 3; Runner-up: HMS Prince of Wales Air and WE Depts.

Capital Ship Trophy: HMS Albion; Runners-up: HMS Queen Elizabeth and HMS Prince of Wales

Destroyer Trophy: HMS Duncan; Runner-up: HMS Dauntless

Frigate Trophy: HMS Portland; Runner-up: HMS Lancaster

Offshore Patrol Vessel Trophy (The Jersey Cup): Batch 1: HMS Mersey; Runner-up: HMS Severn; Batch 2: HMS Tamar; Runner-up: HMS Medway

Mine Countermeasures Trophy (The Jim Action Trophy): Winner: MTXG Crew 1; Runner-up: MCM2 Crew 6

Hydrographic and Meteorological Trophy: FHMU (Fleet Survey Team); Runner-up: HMS Protector

Inshore Patrol Vessel Trophy: HMS Raider; Runner-up: HMS Blazer

Above Water Warfare Trophy (Grytviken Cup): Dauntless; Runner-up: HMS Somerset;

Under Water Warfare Trophy: HMS Northumberland; Runner-up: HMS Portland

Communications Trophy: HMS Northumberland; Runner-up: HMS Albion;

Electronic Warfare Trophy: HMS Kent; Runner-up: HMS Lancaster (both watches)

Fleet Diving Unit Trophy: Alpha Squadron; Runner-up: MCM2 Crew 5

Fleet Intelligence Trophy: Individual: Lance Corporal Frederick Jones RM (30 Cdo IX Gp) and LH Ryan Croxall of (MIXG); Unit: CSF N2; IX4OA (MIXG)

Maritime Signals Intelligence Trophy: Individual: Sgt Jack Norman RM (Fleet Information Operations Centre); Runner-up: CPO(CT) Lawrence Gibson (FIOC); Unit: Russia Maritime Team (FIOC); Runner-up: Maritime Information Exploitation Group (MIXG) Engineering Department

Seamanship Trophy: HMS Queen Elizabeth; Runner-up: HMS Prince of Wales

Engineering Trophy: HMS Northumberland; Runner-up: MCM2 Crew 6

Rulers of the Road Pennant: HMS Trent (98.1 per cent); Runner-up: HMS Tyne (96.4 per cent).

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