HMS Tamar (P233), one of the Royal Navy’s most advanced offshore patrol vessels, is set to visit the Solomon Islands this weekend, marking its first-ever visit to the region. This follows the visit of its sister ship, HMS Spey, to Honiara in April of this year.
HMS Tamar’s Pacific Mission and Engagement in the Solomon Islands
HMS Tamar, as part of the UK’s defense engagement efforts, permanently deploys to provide support to countries in the Pacific region.
The vessel, along with HMS Spey, embarks on a 5-year mission to enhance the region’s security.
Having already visited multiple locations in Asia, Australia, and Papua New Guinea, HMS Tamar now focuses on the Solomon Islands.
Strengthening Maritime Security and Countering Illegal Fishing
During its visit, HMS Tamar will actively engage with local authorities in Gizo and Honiara, focusing on maritime security discussions. Additionally, the ship’s crew will collaborate with the Solomon Islands police, undertaking on-board work to support their efforts.
A key topic of discussion will be the UK’s work in countering illegal fishing, particularly in Noro, the Solomon Islands’ tuna fishing hub. Furthermore, the crew will have the opportunity to interact with young Solomon Islanders, shedding light on life in the Royal Navy.
Paying Tribute to Fallen Heroes in Ballalae
One of the highlights of the visit will be the ship’s stop in Ballalae, which holds special significance this year as it marks the 80th anniversary of the loss of 517 Royal Artillery servicemen. In an act of remembrance, the crew of HMS Tamar will repair the memorial dedicated to those who made the ultimate sacrifice.
Additionally, a solemn remembrance service will be conducted at the Royal Artillery memorial, paying tribute to the fallen heroes.
Reinforcing the UK-Solomon Islands Relationship
This visit serves as a testament to the strength of the United Kingdom’s relationship with the Solomon Islands. During the UK Foreign Secretary James Cleverly’s visit to Honiara in April, he emphasized the importance of HMS Tamar and HMS Spey’s contributions as part of the enduring and warm partnerships between the two nations.
British High Commissioner to the Solomon Islands and Nauru, His Excellency Thomas Coward, expressed his delight at the arrival of HMS Tamar, stating,
“I am delighted to welcome HMS Tamar to the Solomon Islands. I hope this visit further strengthens our partnership on maritime security. Our visit to Ballalae is important to honor and remember the Royal Artillery servicemen who lost their lives there 80 years ago this year.
This visit will further strengthen the bonds of friendship between our two countries.”
Versatility of HMS Tamar and Commitment to the Pacific Region
HMS Tamar is equipped to undertake a wide range of tasks, including deterring illegal fishing, intercepting drug traffickers, and providing humanitarian assistance in the aftermath of disasters.
Its Commanding Officer, Commander Teilo Elliot-Smith, expressed enthusiasm for the visit, stating,
“It’s a great opportunity to bring HMS Tamar to the Solomon Islands and build on the success of the recent engagement. Understanding the challenges and priorities of the islands and populations is key to our mission in these waters.
We will continue to develop and build relationships to support them in safeguarding their natural resources, as well as contributing to maritime security.”
The inaugural visit of HMS Tamar to the Solomon Islands underscores the growing partnership between the United Kingdom and the Pacific region. With its multifaceted capabilities, the ship aims to enhance maritime security, strengthen relationships, and honor the memory of fallen servicemen.
The visit serves as a tangible manifestation of the enduring friendship between the two countries and their shared commitment to safeguarding the region’s interests.