Her Majesty's Government of Gibraltar warmly congratulates Mrs Justine Picardo on her appointment as Sponsor of HMS CUTLASS.
This vessel, together with its sister ship, HMS DAGGER, will be the patrol vessels at the disposal of the Royal Navy Gibraltar Squadron.
CUTLASS is the fastest ship in the Royal Navy and was commissioned into the Royal Navy today in the first ceremony of its kind in the history of Gibraltar, when the red ensign was lowered and the white ensign was raised on the vessel.
Mrs Picardo is the first ever person outside of the British Royal Family or the relatives of senior naval officers who has been appointed sponsor of a Royal Navy ship.
She is also the first person resident outside of the United Kingdom who has been singled out for such a distinguished honour.
'This is a singular and remarkable distinction of which all of Gibraltar will be proud given that, as Mrs Picardo pointed out herself in her address this morning at the Commissioning Ceremony at Gun Wharf, her appointment is a reflection of the depth of the relationship between Gibraltar and the United Kingdom.'
In his address at the Commissioning Ceremony, the Commanding Officer of the Royal Navy Gibraltar Squadron said:
"The commissioning of a Ship is a tremendously important moment, this is more so for CUTLASS as we have the pleasure of both welcoming CUTLASS into the Fleet and celebrating her new home here in Gibraltar. Arriving at the end of 2021, as with all first of class vessels, CUTLASS began a challenging journey in becoming ready for operations, but we are very glad to finally achieve this milestone.
"The Ship and Squadron have been busy in that time, enhancing CUTLASS from a civilian workboat to an extremely capable patrol Ship. The body of work carried out by the Squadron will not only be reflected in CUTLASS but in her sister Ship DAGGER and any future Ministry of Defence jet propelled patrol vessels.
This work has included sea trials, safety and readiness checks and proving her operational capability. She will immediately assume the role of providing security in British Gibraltar Territorial Waters whilst demonstrating UK sovereignty, a role she is extremely capable in delivering.
"Our thanks must go to our Lady Sponsor Mrs Picardo for her enthusiasm and support in achieving this milestone; to Marine Specialised Technology Group & BMT for sponsoring today's event and in particular their Project Team, led by Mr Chris Hurley, for their commitment and hark work. Unique to Royal Navy Gibraltar Squadron, the Commanding Officers of DAGGER and PURSUER were instrumental in the generation of CUTLASS, and to them I say thank you for all your support.
"Finally, I am honoured to pay tribute to the outstanding Squadron personnel and the families who support them. Their hard work, enthusiasm and determination was critical in ensuring CUTLASS is an outstanding addition to a proud Service."
The Commander British Forces Gibraltar, Steve Dainton said:
"The commissioning of HMS CUTLASS into Her Majesty's Fleet is a major milestone for Gibraltar and one that will mark a significant increase in capability for the Royal Navy Gibraltar Squadron. HMS CUTLASS is superbly fast, highly manoeuvrable and equipped with a modern and innovative Command system that will enable a new level of excellence out on the waters around 'The Rock'.
"Bringing a 'First of Class' ship into operational profile is always a challenge and, over the last few months, the RNGS officers and sailors have been required to achieve a comprehensive set of acceptance trials for HMS CUTLASS jointly with the continuation of the delivery of wider maritime operations. They have achieved this with incredible professionalism, fortitude and good humour and I am exceptionally proud of their success.
"So, as CBF, may offer a very warm welcome to HMS CUTLASS to both Her Majesty's Fleet and to the Royal Navy's most operational squadron."