HMS Echo (H87)

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HMS Echo MOD 45155676.jpg
HMS Echo in 2006
United Kingdom
Ordered: 19 June 2000[1]
Builder: Appledore Shipbuilders, Bideford
Launched: 4 March 2002[1]
Sponsored by: Lady Haddacks
Commissioned: 7 March 2003[1]
Homeport: HMNB Devonport, Plymouth
  • Marte et Arte
  • (Latin: "By Valour and Skill")
Status: in active service
Badge: Ship's badge
General characteristics [1]
Type: Hydrographic survey vessel
Displacement: 3,740 t (3,680 long tons; 4,120 short tons)
Length: 90.6 m (297 ft 3 in)
Beam: 16.8 m (55 ft 1 in)
Draught: 5.5 m (18 ft 1 in)
Speed: 15 knots (28 km/h; 17 mph)
Range: 9,300 nmi (17,200 km) at 12 kn (22 km/h; 14 mph)
Endurance: 35 days
Boats & landing
craft carried:
Survey motor boat
Complement: 72
Sensors and
processing systems:
Integrated survey system[N 1]

HMS Echo is the first of two multi-role hydrographic survey ships commissioned by the Royal Navy. With her sister ship, HMS Enterprise, they form the Echo class of survey vessels. She was built by Appledore Shipbuilders in Devon in 2002[3] and is the ninth Royal Navy vessel to carry the name.


Echo and Enterprise are the first Royal Navy ships to be fitted with azimuth thrusters. Both azimuth thrusters and the bow thruster can be controlled through the Integrated Navigation System by a joystick providing high manoeuvrability. Complete control and monitoring for power generation and propulsion, together with all auxiliary plant systems, tank gauging and damage control functions is provided through the integrated platform management system, accessible through workstations around the ship.


Echo and her sister ship are designed to conduct survey operations in support of submarines or amphibious operations. She can provide almost real-time tailored environmental information, and also has a secondary role as a mine countermeasure tasking authority platform, for which she is capable of embarking a dedicated mine counter measures command team.[4]


Echo operates a lean-manned three-watch rotation system. The total ship's company is 72, with two-thirds of the ship's company on board at any one time. The work cycle of 75 days on followed by 30 days off allows her sailors to take sufficient leave while the ship can remain away from her base port for extended periods, potentially for years at a time.[5]

Operational history[edit]

Echo was launched on 2 March 2002 and was named on 4 March by Lady Haddacks, wife of Vice Admiral Sir Paul Haddacks.[3] She was accepted into service on 4 October 2002 and formally commissioned on 7 March 2003.[3]


Echo deployed to the Persian Gulf to conduct survey operations in 2004, returning to the UK in April 2005.[4]

HMS Echo near the Valletta Waterfront, Malta, April 2008

Exploiting her rotational manning system, Echo was deployed on a five-year mission to the Far East, conducting ocean survey and diplomatic visits.[6]

In August 2008 she visited Hong Kong, where her commanding officer laid a wreath at the Stanley Military Cemetery.[7] In October of the same year she visited Busan for the Republic of Korea International Fleet Review.[8] Other visits have been conducted to Bangladesh, Malaysia, Singapore, Brunei, and Indonesia.[9]


February 2012 saw Echo visit the Seychelles to take part in anti-piracy training with the Seychelles Coastguard. The visit included a stop in the capital Victoria.[10] On 16 August 2012 the ship returned to Devonport after almost a year and a half away. In this time she had been in the Middle and Far East, and had fired on a suspected Somali pirate vessel.

In July 2013 Echo was in the central Mediterranean surveying the approaches to the ports of Tripoli and Khoms on the coast of Libya to improve Admiralty charts of the area. She was looking for wrecks that might be hazards to shipping. In 10 days she found the wrecks of one liner, two merchant ships, one landing craft, two fishing vessels, two barges and two large sunken pontoons. She also found at least half a dozen lost shipping containers. The landing craft is believed to be the Libyan Navy Polnocny-class landing ship Ibn Qis, which was burnt out on exercise in 1978.[11]

4-engined plane flies over ship
Australian AP-3C Orion flies over Echo during search for MH370 in April 2014

On 20 March 2014 Echo was in the Persian Gulf[12] when redeployed to an area around 2,400 km (1,500 mi) south west of Perth, Western Australia, to join the search for the missing Malaysia Airlines Flight 370,[13] in response to a request by the Australian authorities to the British Ministry of Defence.[14] Prior to this, she was midway through an 18-month deployment "to improve charts used by seafarers throughout the world". According to the ship's programme, she was next to be conducting hydrographic surveying in the Gulf until her return to the UK later on in 2014.

Three days before, on 17 March, Australia had agreed to lead the search for the missing aircraft in the southern locus from Sumatra to the southern Indian Ocean.[15][16] The search was to be coordinated by the Australian Maritime Safety Authority, with an area of 600,000 km2 (230,000 sq mi) between Australia and the Kerguelen Islands lying more than 3,000 kilometres (1,900 mi) from Perth to be searched by ships and aircraft of Australia, New Zealand and the United States.[17]

As of January 2016, Echo was operating in UK waters on Fishery Protection duties while Mersey was deployed to the Caribbean.[18]

Echo departed Devonport on 4 November 2016 to relieve Enterprise on migrant patrol in the Mediterranean.[19]


  1. ^ Side-scan sonar; Multi-beam echo sounder; Single-beam echo sounder; Undulating oceanographic profiler; Doppler current log; Sub-bottom profiler; Bottom sampling equipment


  1. ^ a b c d Jane's Fighting Ships 2004–2005. London: Jane's Information Group Ltd. p. 815. ISBN 0-7106-2623-1.
  2. ^ "Royal Navy Bridge Card, February 2009" (PDF). Retrieved 2009-06-20.
  3. ^ a b c "HMS Echo at the Royal Navy website". Archived from the original on 9 June 2008. Retrieved 20 June 2009.
  4. ^ a b "Echoes of a varied history – HMS Echo', ship of the month". Navy News. May 2004. Retrieved 2009-06-20.
  5. ^ "HMS Echo visits Indonesia at Defence News". Archived from the original on 11 March 2009. Retrieved 20 June 2009.
  6. ^ "HMS Echo sets sail on five-year mission". Highbeam Research. Retrieved 2009-06-20.
  7. ^ "HMS Echo visit to Hong Kong at the Royal Navy website". Retrieved 2009-06-20.
  8. ^ "HMS Echo Attends International Fleet Review – Busan, Republic of Korea at the Royal Navy website". Retrieved 2009-06-20.
  9. ^ "Echo Gets Wet N' Wild In the South China Sea at the Royal Navy website". Retrieved 2009-06-20.
  10. ^ "Echo joins the fight against piracy in the Seychelles". Navy News. Royal Navy. 2012-02-14.
  11. ^ "HMS Echo finds 18 wrecks off Libya". Ministry of Defence. 25 July 2013. Retrieved 2013-08-20.
  12. ^ Daily Telegraph (retrieved 21 March 2014)
  13. ^ ITV News item, 20 March 2014
  14. ^ "Malaysian Airlines MH370: live". Daily Telegraph. 20 March 2014.
  15. ^ "Missing MH370: Australia to lead southern search for MH370". The Star. 17 March 2014.
  16. ^ "Australia agrees to lead search in Indian Ocean for missing Malaysia Airlines flight MH370". The Canberra Times. 17 March 2014.
  17. ^ "Malaysia Airlines MH370: AMSA to coordinate new search 3,000 kilometres south-west of Perth". ABC News. 18 March 2014.
  18. ^
  19. ^
Photograph By Lee Hemmings
Echo off Valletta, 2016

External links[edit]