HMS Mersey, the Portsmouth-based warship, will be in port until next April as she undergoes a major refit at A&P Falmouth.

A familiar visitor to the town during her 20-year career, Mersey has had an action packed year.

Before entering dry dock, Mersey had been available for duties on four out of every five days in 2023, conducting missions as varied as monitoring Russian warships passing the UK to supporting NATO and Joint Expeditionary Force allies in the Baltic, exercising with the RAF, and leading the UK’s government efforts to stop illegal people trafficking in the Solent.

During this time the Navy said that Mersey visited 16 ports in eight countries spending 3,331 hours under her own steam (that’s 138 days/more than 19 weeks/over four months), sailing 31,590 nautical miles in the process.

She collected a commendation from the Shipwrecked Mariners’ Society for ‘meritorious actions in rescuing others’ for humanitarian work.

The ship spent more than 120 days patrolling the Channel, responding to more than 650 incidents alongside the RNLI and Border Force, helping recover people – and also abandoned craft – mostly at night, and mostly in poor conditions.

On a couple of occasions Mersey was asked to step in her for her sister HMS Severn delivering specialist navigational training to officers looking to safely guide capital ships through challenging waters).

And in frequent sub-zero temperatures and snowstorms, the ship operated alongside military forces from Sweden, Finland, Latvia, Lithuania and Estonia, and train with locally-based RAF assets (notably a Typhoon interceptor) during a whistle-stop month-long mission to the Baltic.

The ship missed the year’s other big party – the Coronation – as she was monitoring the progress of Russian ships past the UK; one of several times she’s been activated this year, including in the final weeks before entering maintenance in Falmouth.

The River-class ship’s engines will be overhauled, accommodation upgraded, systems renewed and the Western Approaches World War Two camouflage/dazzle paint scheme added to the hull.

Western Approaches’ livery was applied to U-boat killers through much of World War Two.

The combination of blue-grey and green-grey on a background of white and light grey was first applied to destroyer HMS Broke in 1940 and was subsequently ‘worn’ by ships operating in the namesake approaches – extending about 1,000 miles from the UK into the Atlantic – to make it difficult for German U-boat commanders to spot them, especially in heavy seas.