The Royal Navy survey ship HMS Echo’s 20-year career formally ended July first at a decommissioning ceremony at Portsmouth Naval Base. The ship was the first of two Echo-class survey ships – alongside HMS Enterprise, which is still in service – designed for hydrographic and oceanographic operations across the world.
The 5,000-tonne ship was commissioned in Portsmouth but was based at Devonport Naval Base during two decades of service.
HMS Echo’s Commanding Officer, Commander Adam Coles, said: “Being trusted with the final command of HMS Echo is a real honour, and I feel privileged to have served in her.”
HMS Echo’s colourful Royal Navy career saw her deployed to all corners of the globe, making notable discoveries along the way.
She discovered an uncharted sea mountain off the Yemen coast during two years of operations across the Middle and Far East around 2010 and found the wreck of a Second World War cargo ship off the coast of Libya.
Closer to UK, HMS Echo helped create superior images of the Firth of Clyde and captured three-dimensional images of HMS Dasher, a Second World War aircraft carrier which sank off the Ayrshire coast.
More recently, Echo deployed to the Baltic and Arctic and searched for the wreck of one sunken Second World War cruiser and updating existing information about another, HMS Edinburgh, over whose wreck Echo’s crew held a service of remembrance.
As the White Ensign was lowered on HMS Echo for the final time in Portsmouth, it marked the beginning of a new approach to the Royal Navy’s hydrographic and meteorological operations.
The Future Military Data Gathering program will see the use of more modern equipment, autonomous systems deployed and the introduction of new survey craft later this year.
The Royal Navy’s hydrographers and meteorological experts will continue to serve aboard ships across the globe but will also deploy in smaller teams around the UK and overseas. It will also see the Royal Navy work even closer with UK Hydrographic Office.