Military yachts return to Portsmouth from round-the-world adventure

Military yachts return to Portsmouth from round-the-world adventure

Two military yachts which have circumnavigated the globe during the last 12 months — testing the endurance and teamwork of hundreds of servicemen and women — have returned to the UK.

The 72-ft adventurous sail training vessels travelled more than 35,000 miles during Exercise Transglobe and have been crewed by a total of 392 soldiers, marines, sailors and airmen during the voyage.

Her Majesty’s Sail Training Vessels Adventure and Discoverer set off from the Joint Services Adventurous Sail Training Centre (JSASTC) at Gosport on July 25th last year, and over 13 legs visited harbours including Rio de Janeiro, Cape Town, Sydney, and New York. The yachts started their last leg from Halifax, Canada on July 24th and returned to the JSASTC on Saturday.

Becky Walford, a staff skipper at the JSASTC, skippered two legs — one on each yacht. She was in charge of Adventure on the last leg and of Discoverer between Montevideo and St Lucia.

The 44-year-old from Gosport said: “It is fantastic to be back and to have helped make the exercise a success. It is a tremendous achievement. Our service personnel have been tested to their limits in some trying conditions and they have all come through.”

She said the most arduous conditions she experienced was the extreme heat on her first leg. “It was 45 degrees inside the boat and people were getting fractious. That was a huge test for us all!

“But to see some of our novice sailors mature over the exercise and deal with some really tough conditions was really rewarding. To see the crews develop as teams was another highlight for me.

“It has taught them resilience and tolerance and the ability to deal with people from different levels outside of a typical military environment. For example we had air cadet just starting out in his career and an air vice-marshal nearing the end of his. But there is no rank structure on the yachts, we were all on first-name terms which was strange at first for many of the younger crew members.”

Becky’s personal stand-out memory was the stunning scenery, wildlife, and sunsets. “The ocean wildlife was amazing. Sharks, whales and dolphins all within touching distance.”

About 130 of the 392 service personnel who took part in the exercise were at the JSASTC to welcome home their colleagues. Many families of the sailors also attended and were given tours of the yachts.