Patrol ship HMS Severn was officially welcomed back into the Royal Navy family on 28 August 2021, despite being busy on operations for the past 14 months.
Berthed alongside the famous wartime cruiser HMS Belfast on the Thames near Tower Bridge, the River class ship was recommissioned in a traditional naval ceremony in the heart of the capital.
A hectic schedule and Covid/lockdown restrictions prevented the Portsmouth-based warship formally rejoining the Fleet as she enjoys a ‘second life’ under the White Ensign.
Severn arrived in the Pool of London after a short maintenance period in Falmouth Docks. There, the dockyard applied a unique paint scheme, mirroring ships who waged the Battle of the Atlantic 80 years ago.
The combination of blue-grey and green-grey on a background of white and light grey is known as the Western Approaches paint scheme.
First used by World War II destroyer HMS Broke, it was worn by ships operating in the namesake approaches – extending about 1,000 miles from the UK into the Atlantic – to hide more effectively from German U-boat commanders.
HMS Severn is the first vessel to receive the paint scheme since World War II. While radar makes the use of maritime camouflage largely irrelevant, it is a tribute to sailors of the Battle of the Atlantic who operated in the same waters.
Severn has been fully operational since July last year following comprehensive regeneration.
She was originally decommissioned in October 2017 after 14 years’ service, chiefly patrolling UK fishing grounds to ensure trawlers were sticking to regulations.
However, 12 months later she was later deemed too important to UK defence to be disposed of, and in November 2018 the Secretary of State announced that she would return to the Fleet, which she did last summer following a refit and regeneration. This is the first time a Royal Navy vessel has been brought back to life since the Falklands conflict in 1982.
HMS Severn’s primary role in her second life is a combination of navigation training, protection of UK waters and fishery protection.
Since returning to active service she has conducted six Fleet Navigator Officer Courses and one Specialist Navigator Course, training over 50 navigators including international students from Chile and New Zealand.
The service, attended by friends, families, affiliates and senior naval officers, is akin to a ‘christening’ for warships, blessing Severn and all who serve in her.
Photos of HMS Severn on the Thames after her ceremony by Jason Arthur.