HMS Somerset’s ships company completed a cycling and rowing challenge to accompany the ship’s passage through the Suez Canal. Both the rowers and cyclists set out to beat the 14 hours it took the frigate to travel the canal’s length from the Mediterranean Sea to the Gulf of Suez.

81 personnel each rowed a two kilometre leg on the ship’s rowing machines, equalling the 162 kilometre target distance. It took the men and women of HMS Somerset just 10 hours and 37 minutes, with impressive times achieved by all.

The fastest male rower was Sergeant Dave ‘the Dish’ Wotherspoon, Royal Marines, who rowed the distance in 6 minutes 51.1 seconds, narrowly beating Lieutenant Tom Worley, Royal Navy, who rowed it just 0.1 seconds slower.

The fastest female was Lieutenant Alexandra Karavla who managed an impressive 7 minutes 35.7 seconds.

HMS Somerset’s Leading Physical Training Instructor Mark Yates, who organised the event, said: “I am very proud of the time the ship's company achieved. Hopefully we have set a time other Royal Navy ships will find difficult to beat. But it's not all about the time, it's about participation, dedication, commitment and team work.”

The two cyclists, Regulating Petty Officer Lee Whittaker and Leading Regulator Alex Llewellyn, travelled the same 162 kilometre distance, taking it in turns to peddle the Commanding Officer’s road bike on a training stand. They completed their challenge in a respectable 7 hours and 46 minutes, averaging 20.8 kilometres per hour.

At the end of the cycle, Leading Regulator Alex Llewellen said: “I think we slightly under-estimated how challenging riding the Suez was going to be.

As it was getting hotter throughout the day, the miles were gradually getting harder, however, we were determined to complete the 162 kilometres. We had plenty of support from the ship’s company along the way and once we finished we both had a massive sense of achievement.’

HMS Somerset’s two Royal Navy Policemen have set themselves three challenges over the duration of the ship’s operational deployment. Last month the pair ran the Gibraltar Rock Race dressed as convicts. Their final challenge will be to jointly complete a 26 mile marathon, the tag team marathon, which will comprise of 183 circuits of the Ship’s upper deck. They are raising money for the Royal Navy Royal Marines Charity during their challenges.

HMS Somerset is in the early stages of a six month Operational Deployment. On the passing through the Suez Canal the Type 23 frigate has become the latest warship to contribute to the Royal Navy’s continuing presence in the Indian Ocean and the Gulf. 

While in the region the ship will be working in support of Coalition Forces to execute Maritime Security patrols to actively deter, disrupt and suppress piracy and the unlawful use of the sea in order to protect global maritime security and secure freedom of navigation for the benefit of all nations.