A SAILOR from South Yorkshire was among the ‘unsung heroes’ who ensured warship HMS Mersey could fulfill its duties protecting fishing vessels on the high seas.
Duncan ‘Smudge’ Smith, who joined the Royal Navy in 1992, as a Marine Engineering Mechanic, is one of the small marine engineering team onboard and his areas of responsibility include ship’s refrigeration and ventilation systems, as well as the fire suppression system and sewage treatment plant.
The ship has just docked in Portsmoth after spending weeks at sea.
Just like every other member of the Royal Navy, Duncan, aged 37, has other duties that extend beyond his main role. He doubles up as one of the ship’s fire-fighters, as well as a member of the armed response team and controls the crane - known as a ‘davit’ - that lowers the ship’s sea boats into water.
Duncan, a former Aston School pupil whose wife Jeanette and daughter Lillie, aged four, live in Rotherham, said: “Joining the Royal Navy was one of the best decisions I ever made. It has given me the opportunity to travel widely and try out new things, both professionally and personally. I really like my job in the engineering department so I couldn’t have netted, if you’ll pardon the pun, a better position.”
HMS Mersey is one of three ships that make up the Royal Navy’s Fisheries Protection Squadron.
The squadron patrols UK waters to enforce UK and EU Fisheries legislation to protect from over-fishing. Recently, HMS Mersey made headlines by catching a Belgium beam trawler in the act of using undersize nets. The boat’s skipper was later fined £15,500 and had his nets confiscated.
Last week, HMS Mersey also came to the rescue of a seriously ill fisherman in the middle of the English Channel, her sea boat ferrying him to a Coastguard vessel.
During his 19-year Navy career, Duncan counts a posting to HMS Plover, one of the Hong Kong Patrol vessels, as one of his career highlights.
The ship was regularly engaged in anti-piracy and smuggling operations and he also visited Malaysia, the Philippines and Australia.