HMS Monmouth is the sixth “Duke”-class Type 23 frigate of the Royal Navy. She is the seventh ship to bear the name and was launched by Lady Eaton in 1991, being commissioned two years later.
Affectionately known as ‘The Black Duke’, Monmouth is the only ship in service with the Royal Navy that has its name painted in black and flies a plain black flag in addition to the ensign. This is due to the dissolution of the title and the blacking out of the Coat of Arms of the Duke of Monmouth in 1685 following the Monmouth Rebellion against James II of England.
Monmouth visited Wellington in June 1995 in company with RFA Brambleleaf, the first UK or US warship to visit New Zealand since the 1985 ANZUS dispute. Another “first” followed in 1999 as Monmouth became the first major Royal Navy vessel to visit Dublin since the 1960s.
In early 2004 the ship was assigned to the Atlantic Patrol Task North. In 2006 Monmouth underwent operational sea training, conducted by Flag Officer Sea Training, in which she spent six weeks fighting off staged attacks by ships and submarines.
Monmouth returned to berth at her home port HMNB Devonport on 3 December 2007 having completed a circumnavigation of the globe, visiting Australia, New Zealand, and Hawaii and taking part in a FPDA Exercise.
In 2008 she went into refit and in 2009 deployed to the Gulf, returning in April 2010.
On 27 May 2010, she escorted the fleet of “little ships” commemorating the 70th anniversary of Operation Dynamo, the evacuation from Dunkirk on 27 May-4 June 1940 of approximately 340,000 British and French soldiers, and one of the most celebrated military events in British history.
Monmouth spent June 2011 in the Indian Ocean patrolling the waters off Somalia as part of the ongoing multi-national anti-piracy operations in the region. The deployment also saw her spend some time in Victoria, the capital of the Seychelles where she took part in the islands’ Independence celebrations.
In February 2012, Monmouth began a six week refit period at Devonport’s frigate shed, following on from a seven month deployment in the Indian Ocean which began in 2011. For the refit, the ship was taken out of the water into an enclosed dry-dock.
In May 2013, she returned to her home port after a seven month mission to the Gulf. Monmouth also hosted an International Principle Warfare Officer’s course in 2013. She is due to participate in exercise Joint Warrior 2013. From October 2013 she is in home waters serving as the Fleet Ready Escort.
In February 2016, she participated in NATO exercise Dynamic Guard.
LA(Phot) Stuart Hill/MOD