The Royal Navy’s Offshore Patrol Vessel, HMS Tamar (P233), is set to make its inaugural visit to the Solomon Islands this weekend. Following in the footsteps of its sister ship, HMS Spey, which graced Honiara in April of this year, HMS Tamar is permanently stationed in the region to provide support through UK defense engagement. As part of a comprehensive five-year mission in the Pacific, both HMS Tamar and HMS Spey have been instrumental in strengthening ties with countries across Asia, Australia, Papua New Guinea, and now the Solomon Islands.
During its stay, HMS Tamar will actively engage with local authorities in Gizo and Honiara, focusing on crucial maritime security matters. Collaborating closely with the Solomon Islands police, the ship’s crew will conduct on-board training sessions while addressing the pressing issue of illegal fishing in Noro, the Solomon Islands’ tuna fishing hub. Moreover, they will take the opportunity to interact with young Solomon Islanders, shedding light on life in the Royal Navy. As a poignant gesture, HMS Tamar will pay a visit to Ballalae in the Shortland Islands, commemorating the 80th anniversary of the tragic loss of 517 Royal Artillery service members. The crew will participate in repairing the memorial dedicated to these fallen heroes and will hold a solemn remembrance service at the Royal Artillery monument.
This visit is a testament to the enduring partnership between the United Kingdom and the Solomon Islands, as highlighted by UK Foreign Secretary James Cleverly during his trip to Honiara in April. Mr. Thomas Coward, the British High Commissioner to Solomon Islands and Nauru, expressed his delight at welcoming HMS Tamar, emphasizing the importance of this visit in strengthening collaboration on maritime security. Coward added that the visit to Ballalae holds deep significance, allowing both nations to pay tribute to the servicemen who sacrificed their lives eight decades ago, fostering a stronger bond between the two countries.
Renowned for its versatility, HMS Tamar is said to excel in a wide range of roles, including deterring illegal fisheries, intercepting drug traffickers, and providing invaluable humanitarian assistance in times of crisis. Commander Teilo Elliot-Smith, the Commanding Officer of HMS Tamar, expressed enthusiasm for this opportunity to visit the Solomon Islands, building upon the success of recent engagements. Commander Elliot-Smith stressed the importance of understanding the islands’ challenges and priorities in fulfilling their mission, fostering robust relationships, and supporting the Solomon Islands in safeguarding their natural resources while contributing to maritime security.