HMS Echo (H87)

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.

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
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]


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

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]

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 Coast Guard. 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 ten 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]

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.

As of January 2016, Echo was operating in UK waters on Fishery Protection duties while Mersey was deployed to the Caribbean.[15]

Echo departed Devonport on 4 November 2016 to relieve Enterprise on migrant patrol in the Mediterranean.[16]

On 21 November 2018, the UK defence secretary announced Echo would deploy to the Black Sea in 2019 for a freedom of navigation manoeuvre in support of Ukraine.[17] On 21 December, she was visited by Defence Secretary Gavin Williamson in the port of Odessa.[18]


  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. Jane's Fighting Ships 2004–2005. London: Jane's Information Group Ltd. p. 815. ISBN 0-7106-2623-1.
  2. "Royal Navy Bridge Card" (PDF). Royal Navy Community Website. 27 February 2009. Archived from the original (PDF) on 18 April 2009. Retrieved 20 June 2009.
  3. "HMS Echo". Royal Navy. Archived from the original on 9 June 2008. Retrieved 20 June 2009.
  4. "Echoes of a varied history: HMS Echo, ship of the month". Navy News. May 2004. Archived from the original on 19 July 2008. Retrieved 20 June 2009.
  5. "HMS Echo visits Indonesia". Defence News. 25 February 2009. Archived from the original on 11 March 2009. Retrieved 20 June 2009.
  6. "HMS Echo sets sail on five-year mission". Highbeam Research. Retrieved 20 June 2009.
  7. "HMS Echo visit to Hong Kong". Royal Navy. August 2008. Archived from the original on 4 May 2009. Retrieved 20 June 2009.
  8. "HMS Echo Attends International Fleet Review – Busan, Republic of Korea". Royal Navy. Archived from the original on 7 August 2009. Retrieved 20 June 2009.
  9. "Echo Gets Wet N' Wild In the South China Sea". Royal Navy. Archived from the original on 7 December 2009. Retrieved 20 June 2009.
  10. "Echo joins the fight against piracy in the Seychelles". Navy News. Royal Navy. 14 February 2012. Archived from the original on 17 February 2012. Retrieved 9 March 2019.
  11. "HMS Echo finds 18 wrecks off Libya". Ministry of Defence. 25 July 2013. Retrieved 20 August 2013.
  12. Hannah, Strange; Kinder, Lucy; Merat, Arron (21 March 2014). "Malaysian Airlines MH370: March 20 as it happened". The Daily Telegraph. Retrieved 21 March 2014.
  13. "UK sending HMS Echo to assist in Malaysia plane search". ITV News. 20 March 2014. Retrieved 9 March 2019.
  14. Strange, Hannah (22 March 2014). "Malaysia Airlines MH370: March 22 as it happened". The Daily Telegraph. Retrieved 9 March 2019.
  15. "Fisheries: Protection: Written question - 21579". UK Parliament. 7 January 2016. Retrieved 9 March 2019.
  16. "HMS Enterprise praised for saving lives in the Mediterranean". GOV.UK. 4 December 2016. Retrieved 9 March 2019.
  17. "Maritime training deployments to deepen UK-Ukraine defence partnership". GOV.UK. 21 November 2018. Retrieved 9 March 2019.
  18. "UK warship in Ukraine 'sends message to Russia'". BBC News. 22 December 2018. Retrieved 9 March 2019.
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