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Steel cut for
Kent’s dash
new carriers
to the Gulf
FOLLOWING 11 years of talk
and wrangling – and considerable THERE are no fl ies on HMS
sacrifi ce on the part of the RN – Kent.
the fi rst steel has been cut on the Just eight days after leaving
largest warship Britain has ever home waters (and lightning fuel
built. stops in Gib and Crete), the ship
The Princess Royal performed found herself passing through
the honours at the BVT (formerly Suez ready to begin her Gulf task.
BAE Systems) yard in Govan for The transit to the Red Sea was
an offi cial steel-cutting ceremony, punctuated by training, including
watched by First Sea Lord chemical exercise training.
Admiral Sir Jonathon Band. A room full of sailors wearing
It’s twelve months since respirators (gas masks) is a sight
Whitehall signed a contract, just you don’t see very often, but the
short of £4bn, for BVT – the more serious side of equipment
merged shipbuilding wings of checks and lectures on how to
what were once BAE and Vosper use personal equipment correctly
Thornycroft – aboard HMS Ark is what gives RN warships the
Royal in Portsmouth. ability to operate anywhere in the
Since that date some £700m world with the same effectiveness.
has been spent on much of the Kent also found time to begin
kit which will be slotted into the the deployment inter-mess
fi nished hulls of HM Ships Queen games competition, starting with
Elizabeth and Prince of Wales. volleyball on the fl ight deck.
But in that time Whitehall has Teams from all of the mess-
slowed the rate of construction decks onboard competed for the
in view of the nation’s fi nancial coveted Devlin Cup with the
situation, which means the duo obligatory Top Gun soundtrack in
will not enter service in 2014 and the background and perhaps one
2016 as originally planned but at
Picture: SAC Sarah Hanson, RAF Cottesmore too many dog-tags visible.
least a year later.
The competition continued
There has also been widespread
talk in the media and defence
AFTER fi ve years, 8,500 sorties
him unique in Afghanistan’s skies. He fought been here,” said PO Paul Booker, serving with
with handball. Despite the
circles about the need for two and more than 22,000 hours
the Taleban on the ground with 45 Commando 1 Sqn on this fi nal tour.
temperatures steadily creeping
65,000-tonne leviathans when
airborne, jump jet aviators have
during the initial campaign to oust the brutal We often remark that there’s nothing quite
into the 30s, everyone continued
Britain is involved in a landlocked
regime seven years ago. like a ship’s homecoming to bring a lump to
to fi eld teams to try to build
war in Afghanistan.
drawn the curtain on operations in Half a decade later, he appreciates what the throat.
an early points lead for the
The RN has made considerable
air power provides to the troops – and what Well, after touching down on the Cottesmore
competition that will run through
sacrifi ces to help fund the two
The Naval Strike Wing and two RAF
the sight of a Harrier means to ground forces tarmac, air and ground crew mustered then
to the end of the deployment.
Once in the Gulf of Aden,
ships, which will be based in
squadrons, 1(F) and IV, have taken it in turns
locked in mortal combat with the foe. marched down the runway, accompanied in
more fuel was needed – this time
Portsmouth and will carry F35
to provide ground support for Allied troops for
“I used to lead 35 lads on the ground, so that some cases by loved ones. Comrades lined the
courtesy of a RAS rather than
Joint Strike Fighters (whose price
four and a half months at a time. gives me a great appreciation of what it’s like sides, forming a guard of honour – a true sign
tag isn’t cover by the £3.9bn
The rotation and the length of commitment for those in the fi eld,” he said. of respect for fi ve years’ of achievement.
The USNS Leroy Grumman
carrier bill), notably paying off or
in Kandahar means every front-line Harrier “Whether we’re keeping an eye out for Joint Force Harrier Commander Gp Capt
provided the gas and Kent’s XO
selling highly-capable warships
pilot – and every front-line Harrier – has fl own insurgents while the troops are clearing a Ken McCann told the returning personnel that
Lt Cdr Mike Smith guided the
early, including three Type 23
in Afghan skies. compound, or warning patrols about suspicious they – and all who had gone before them – had
Type 23 frigate safely in – his fi rst
The fi nal tour of duty fell to 1(F) Sqn RAF, activity, I get huge satisfaction from knowing left their mark.
operational RAS approach.
Admiral Band said time
but such is the mix of people these days, no I’ve done my bit.” “The Harrier Force has undoubtedly saved
Kent is about to relieve her
and again world events had
Harrier squadron is entirely RAF or Fleet Air That’s a feeling shared by the ground crew the lives of countless personnel – service and
sister Richmond which has been
demonstrated the need for air
Arm, whatever its offi cial designation. – like the fl iers there’s a mix of RN/RAF civilian – on the ground throughout the country
conducting security patrols in the
power delivered from the sea.
And that explains why Royal Marine Capt personnel maintaining the Harriers. – a magnifi cent effort,” he stressed.
northern Gulf since February.
“These ships are not just spare Michael Carty could be found at the controls
“Without us, none of the aircraft would fl y With the Harriers’ duties at Kandahar Air
airfi elds – they are an instrument of a jump jet with 1 Sqn on this curtain-call and without the aircraft, the troops wouldn’t Base now done, their place has been taken
of national power, the ‘big stick’ deployment. have the cover they need – it’s amazing to have by Tornados, initially of RAF 12 Sqn from
which can be waved by the The Royal’s qualifi cations probably made been a part of that. I’m really proud to have Lossiemouth. Enterprising
Government in areas of strategic
interest to infl uence, coerce
and deter,” the First Sea Lord
“These ships will give us an
unprecedented range of options
to deal with the challenges of an Banger and stash
time in Africa
SURVEY ship HMS Enterprise
had opened her two-year
deployment with visits to West
uncertain world at a time – and
place – of our choosing.”
Dakar was only a fuelling
The admiral added: “After over
DRUGS worth more than £40m were seized by British
The bust came at the end of several hectic days for the Mighty
stop – but there was time
ten years of debate, uncertainty,
to call on the head of the
planning, and frankly some
sailors and marines on the ‘hashish highway’ in the
Sausage, her 815 NAS Lynx Flight, their helicopter ‘Judge’ (it
Senegalese Navy, Capt Oumar
insidious behaviour, I am
Middle East – the biggest haul by Allied forces this
takes its name from the ship’s motto justitia tenax – tenacious of
Baila Kane.
delighted that the steel for the year. That intensive period saw Judge scrambled to intercept a pirate
He and Enterprise’s CO Cdr
fi rst of two ships is cut.” A US Navy P3 patrol aircraft located the dhow in the Gulf of attack (which proved to be a false alarm), a cordial encounter with
Adam James discussed what
Aside from the work under way Aden, tracking it in unison with HMS Cumberland overnight. an Iranian task group in the Gulf of Aden, the transfer of some crew
help the survey ship could
at Govan, sections of the ships Around 150 miles southeast of the Omani port of Salalah, the on compassionate leave to Salalah, a whole host of fast-roping
offer Senegal in the event of
will be constructed in Rosyth, frigate pounced at dawn, sending its boarding party across in high exercises with the Type 22’s Royal Marines boarding team.
a natural disaster, while Capt
Portsmouth and Appledore in seas to search the boat. All of this – part of Operation Calash, the UK’s commitment to
Kane picked the brains of
Devon, before the ‘jigsaw’ is They found around 12 tonnes of cannabis resin hidden in a maritime security in the Indian Ocean – has been carried out in very
Enterprise’s CO on the subject
pieced together on the Forth. secret compartment with an estimated street value of $70m (£43m) challenging conditions.
of female sailors; Senegal has
– enough to make 35 million spliffs. Throughout the month, Judge remained serviceable, with the
recently admitted the fairer sex
Trading places
“We’re well trained for this operation, but you don’t expect to exception of some niggling little faults that required some late
into its Navy for the first time.
fi nd this quantity,” said PO(MEM) Jan Dash, one of the boarding evenings in the stifl ingly hot hangar.
Enterprise’s next port of call
team. “During the transit through the Red Sea, the temperature in the
in West Africa offered a rather
at Rosyth
“Twelve tonnes is a huge amount of drugs – it looked like bags hangar rose as high as 46ºC, but once into the Gulf of Aden it cooled
longer stop.
of potatoes piled up when we got it on deck.” down signifi cantly to really hot, not really really hot,” according to
The ship spent seven days
Cumberland is currently attached to Coalition Task Force 150, the Flight’s unoffi cial log.
in Freetown, Sierra Leone, for
IT’S out of refi t for one
an international naval task group committed to strangling illegal While the engineers and technicians toil in the hangar “cleaning,
a watch changeover (the ship
Sandown-class ship at Rosyth...
activity in the Indian Ocean, Gulf of Aden and Horn of Africa cleaning and more cleaning” to keep Judge serviceable, Flight
rotates her crew to sustain
... and in with her sister. Mine
region. Observer Lt Martin ‘Stormy’ Ormshaw is, apparently, mostly in the
operations with one third of her
countermeasures vessels Bangor
The force, currently commanded by the French, has seized more gym “getting massive” – and “occasionally joining the dots on a
company in the UK at any one
and Ramsey traded places at the
than 18 tonnes of drugs this year (and bagged 53 tonnes in 2008). chart and claiming it is a search pattern”, while Flight Commander
Forth dockyard.
Cumberland’s haul has now been destroyed. Lt Marty van Duin “is mostly infuriating the fi sh heads with too
While the watch handover
Bangor spent six months in the
“The clear message is that the Royal Navy is here, ready and many good ideas.”
was being conducted and the
shed in the hands of experts from
able to stop the proceeds reaching terrorists and insurgents trying
ship was undergoing a spot of
Babcock from Rosyth.
to expand their fanatical activities,” said Capt David Dutton, the ● Cornwall’s boarding party searches the suspect dhow for drugs
maintenance, sailors headed up
They gave the ten-year-old
frigate’s CO. in rough seas while the Pacifi c 24 stands guard
the River Rokel to Lunsar, two
warship a general overhaul, hours or so outside Freetown.
revamped the living quarters The Lunsar School, run
and stripped Bangor’s bottom, by Catholic missionaries,
applying a new anti-foul paint provides an education for 3,000
which should make the ship travel youngsters from the town and
faster and more efficiently. surrounding area.
Barely had Bangor emerged It relies a great deal on
from the shed than HMS Ramsey voluntary support, so a working
arrived at Rosyth. party from Enterprise got down
She will receive much of the to some hard labour, erecting
same treatment as her sister a razor wire fence to prevent
(including that special hull paint). thieves getting in, fixing the
In addition, following two generators, water pumps and
years in the Gulf, Ramsey will school computer.
also receive upgrades based In between the hard work,
on lessons learned in the Gulf, the sailors chatted with pupils
such as a ‘hot climate’ vegetable who were excited by the
locker and an overhaul of her air presence of the Royal Navy.
conditioning systems. As for the ship, she’s now
Her ‘yellow submarine’ mine gathering data in the coastal
disposal system will be ripped waters of West Africa and
out and replaced with the more working with the maritime wing
efficient Seafox which is now of the Republic of Sierra Leone
becoming standard kit across the Armed Forces to help the small
mine warfare fleet. force police its territorial waters
She’s due out of the shed in and protect the country’s
January. fishing zones.
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