In 2017, thanks to Freeman Richard Brown, whose son Lieutenant Oliver Brown was then in command of HMS Puncher, The Horners’ Company began an association with the vessel. Oliver handed over command to Lieutenant Lauren Webber in March 2018.
The first contact that members of the Company had with the ship was when a party went aboard in July 2017. This was repeated in October 2018. On both occasions, she sailed down to the Thames Barrier and back. Thanks to Oliver Brown, a party from the Horners was invited to watch the Ceremony of the Keys at HM Tower of London in March last year.
HMS Puncher is part of 1stPatrol Boat Squadron (1PBS). She is a member of the P2000 class; the smallest craft in the Royal Navy.
The ship is affiliated with the London University Royal Naval Unit, whose students whilst at sea, practice navigation and seamanship skills. These may include chart planning, acting as Officer of the Watch, using the ship’s radar and carrying out seamanship evolutions from anchoring to securing alongside. Instruction is provided in engineering, firefighting, damage control and ship handling. Her homeport is HMNB Portsmouth.
Weekend training at sea is usually limited to visiting UK coastal ports but last year she deployed with seven of her class on the NATO Exercise Baltic Operations,part of a force of 43 ships from 22 nations. The exercise featured live fire training, anti-surface and anti-submarine warfare, mine warfare, air defence and joint personnel recovery from the sea (a key role for ships of 1PBS).
It is to be hoped that the Horners and HMS Puncher may form a long, close and mutually beneficial affiliation.
(Cadet RNR (Retired))