'I loved reading this year's winners and runners-up. It filled me with hope, to read them. The senior winner, Annika Turon-Semmens, already has the refusal to compromise that marks a real writer. Human Nature is an astute fusion of funny, vivid, apprehending, powerful, sympathetic and visionary. The senior runner-up, Hiya Chowdhury, has pulled off something very difficult indeed, a story that shines with subtlety and rightness, skilful articulacy, with a communal understanding in which contemporaneity and history, both essentially held together, are made visible in the briefest space like a flare in the dark. The story has a perfected choreography wise beyond its years and its size.
Royal Navy mine hunter HMS Penzance returned to her Scottish base of operations today after spending three years helping to protect vital waterways in the Gulf. Sailing the ship as it made its way up the Gare Loch were Crew 1 from Faslane’s First Mine Counter Measures Squadron (MCM1) who have served with the vessel for the past eight months. A Royal Navy Sandown class Mine Counter Measures Vessel (MCMV), during her three-years deployed to the Middle East HMS Penzance has spent over 7,500 hours at sea and sailed more than 34,000 miles. At any one time the Royal Navy has four mine hunters working in the Gulf – two Scottish-based Sandown class ships from HM Naval Base Clyde and two Hunt class vessels which are usually based in Portsmouth. While there, the vessels conducted routine surveys, sea-bed clearance and mine clearance operations.
The 1707 Acts of Union , which created the Kingdom of Great Britain in 1707, established the Royal Navy of the newly united kingdom by the merger of the three-ship Royal Scots Navy with the Royal Navy of England. Throughout the 18th and 19th centuries, the Royal Navy was the largest maritime force in the world, but until 1805 combinations of enemies repeatedly matched or exceeded its forces in numbers.  Despite this, it was able to maintain an almost uninterrupted ascendancy over its rivals through superiority in financing, tactics, training, organisation, social cohesion, hygiene, dockyard facilities, logistical support and (from the middle of the 18th century) warship design and construction.