Money can’t buy you love – but it can buy you the chance to be the Captain of a warship for the day!

Whilst at sea in the Mediterranean, the ship’s company of HMS Montrose recently took some time out to hold a charity ‘auction of promises’ to raise money for the Royal Navy and Royal Marines Charity (RNRMC). The auction saw fierce bidding for some very unique prizes and some of the sailors took the opportunity to treat themselves after a busy operational Christmas period away from home.

The many prizes on offer to the highest bidder included a bath in the Commanding Officer's cabin, a driving lesson in the jet-powered sea boats, the choice of setting the menu for the whole ship for a day, and even a full day off work alongside (known as a “make and mend” in the Royal Navy).  In total, the 18 lots on offer sold to raise over £3100, all of which will go directly to the RNRMC at the end of the seven month deployment.

The highest bid of the night came from the Petty Officer’s mess, who clubbed together to make a joint bid for dinner in the Wardroom served by the officers, while Leading Chef Mark Young donated £80 for the chance to drive the ship “like he stole it” during a man overboard exercise or ‘MOBEX’.

First off the ship

Petty Officer Andrew “Nobby” Styles, who bid £420 to be the first person across the gangway on return from deployment, said: “It’s my last deployment after a long career in the Royal Navy so it’ll be very special to be the first person across the gangway to see my family. It was a highly contested auction with some serious bidding going on, but I’m very happy to have held my nerve and come out on top for a number of the lots.  At the end of the day its all a bit of fun and to be able to donate to the RNRMC makes it even better.”

Organiser and Auctioneer Leading Engineering Technician (Weapon Engineering) Marc “Bobby” Ball continued:  “The Auction of Promises was an outstanding success; it surpassed all of our expectations. To raise over £3000 for the RNRMC whilst giving members of the ship’s company the chance to take part in ‘once in a lifetime’ experiences was fantastic.”

Picture: Leading Chef Tarr with her ‘promise certificate’ having made the highest bid for the chance to have a 45 minute lesson in how to drive one of the ship’s Pacific 24 seaboats.

Auction prize of a lifetime

Having auctioned off the chance for one individual to take over command of the ship for a day, as well as the use of his bathroom, Commander James Parkin also donated perhaps the bravest prize of the night - two square inches of his skin for his first ever tattoo, with the design chosen by the winning bidders!  

He said afterwards: “My ship’s company have worked tirelessly over the past five months on operations in the Persian Gulf and tonight has been a fantastic opportunity to take some time out and raise some money for a very worthy cause in the process. I wasn’t expecting to come home from operations with my first piece of “ink”, especially as I have not yet seen the design, but £3140 from one night is a phenomenal result. I now wait to see what I’m going to have on my body for the rest of my life!”

Writer Natalie Parkes, who was part of the syndicate that won the right to tattoo the Captain, said:

"It was an awesome night and we got caught up in heat of the bidding war.  We didn’t think we’d have any chance of winning and we’re still not sure what we want the tattoo to be. We’re torn between a bunny rabbit, a picture of the current First Sea Lord or - so that he never forgets us - we might go for all of our names!"

Further bounties

Many of the prizes were soon fulfilled on the journey back home, including 23-year-old Engineering Technician (Marine Engineering) Ethan Curley acting as Commanding Officer for a day, an experience which included liberal granting of time off for messmates, Captain’s Rounds of certain Marine Engineering compartments (reported by Senior Ratings, of course) and the ship’s policeman, Regulating Petty Officer Ian Peacock, being re-tasked as “Captain’s Steward” for 24 hours. 

After he had handed over command back to Commander Parkin, ET Curley said: "With great power comes great responsibility - so what better way to use it than to make the RPO do all my washing up? I’d like to thank the 26-man-mess for contributing to winning the auction, and hope they enjoyed their extra time off.  Your Captain loves you, boys...”

Picture: Engineering Technician (Marine Engineering) Ethan Curley receiving his Commanders rank tabs on the handover of command of HMS Montrose from Commander James Parkin.

HMS Montrose is currently on her way back from OP RECSYR and is due back in Devonport later this month.