HMS Blazer (P279)

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Career (UK) RN Ensign
Name: HMS Blazer
Operator: Royal Navy
Builder: Vosper Thornycroft
Commissioned: 1988
Status: in active service, as of 2024
General characteristics
Class and type: Archer class patrol vessel
Displacement: 52 tons
Length: 20.8 m (68 ft 3 in)
Beam: 5.8 m (19 ft)
Draught: 1.8 m (5 ft 11 in)
Propulsion: 2 shafts, Rolls Royce M800T diesels, 1,590 bhp
Speed: 18 knots (33 km/h) cruise
30 knots (56 km/h) maximum
Range: 550 nmi (1,020 km) at 15 knots (28 km/h)
Endurance: 6 Days Vittals onboard
Boats and landing
craft carried:
1 × Gemini RIB
Complement: 5 (RN), 1 training officer (RNR), 12 students (URNU) or 12 (RN)
Sensors and
processing systems:

1 × Decca 1216 navigation radar

1 × 968 surveillance radar

HMS Blazer can be fitted with a 20 mm cannon on fo'c'sle

3 × 7.62 mm L7 GPMG

10 × SA80 in small arms locker

2 × Spearfish Torpedo Launchers
Motto: "Premier in the First"

HMS Blazer (P279) is an Archer-class Fast Patrol Vessel built by Vosper Thornycroft. She is just over 20 metres long and 5.8 metres wide and powered by two Rolls-Royce turbo engines. The ship is based at HMS Nelson Shore Base in Portsmouth and was commissioned in 1988.

She has 4 crew plus a Commanding Officer, and sails with a Training Officer and a complement of students. She is attached to the Southampton University Royal Naval Unit (SURNU), under the command of Lt Thomas Weaver RN, who is also Officer in Charge of the Unit.

Southampton URNU

Southampton University Royal Naval Unit (Southampton URNU or SURNU) is one of 14 URNUs in the country with the mission statement to 'educate a wide-spectrum of high calibre undergraduates and future opinion formers into the need for and role of the Royal Navy and career opportunities available within the forces'.

Southampton URNU recruits undergraduates from the Universities of University of Southampton, Portsmouth University and Southampton Solent University. Over 60 students attend drill evenings and other activities ashore.


Competitions are held with other university hockey, rugby and netball teams and the Unit also has a sailing team. The highlight of the sporting calendar is an inter-URNU sports weekend when the students compete against the 13 other URNUs.

The students may also learn to fly in URNU flying courses or go on a Southampton URNU organised expedition. Expeditions including skiing in Europe and mountain climbing in the UK. Recruitment for Southampton URNU takes place each September.


Sea time is combined with time aboard HMS Blazer at weekends, when she visits local ports such as Cowes, Weymouth and Poole, and deployments during the Easter and summer holidays when she visits ports around the UK and northern Europe.


There is a social calendar, with formal and informal events which include a formal mess dinner and annual ball. The ship is affiliated to the cities of Southampton and Portsmouth regularly visiting the cities during deployments and for Remembrance Day ceremonies.

HMS Blazer flies the White Ensign at events such as the Fleet Reviews, the 'Round the Island' sailing race, other major events, as well as providing a constant reassuring presence to mariners in the English Channel and further afield.

1993 Cherbourg incident

On 28 March 1993, HMS Blazer became involved in a fishing rights dispute between British authorities and French fishermen. The vessel was paying a visit to Cherbourg when the local fishermen learned that a boat of their fleet, the Calypso, had been stopped at sea by a British patrol boat, HMS Brocklesby. Actually, the skipper of Calypso didn't submit and set out for Cherbourg with three British fishery protection servicemen on board. A French port vessel later returned the personnel to Royal Navy control. Eight French trawlers surrounded the Blazer and anger fishermen boarded the ship. Her crew of 16 was forced to remain below the deck for three hours, while the White Ensign was burned by the mob. French authorities subsequently put an end to the situation and forcibly expelled the protesters.[1] After this incidents, the Royal Navy deployed unarmed Royal Marines to conduct this kind of law enforcement missions. The Calypso was eventually caught by the patrol boat HMS Jersey and her master put under arrest in Guernsey.[2]


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