6 NAVY NEWS, JANUARY 2010
● Iron Duke’s swimmer of the watch observes as the USS Wasp
rendezvouses with the Dutch tanker Amsterdam
invigorating – by MASU
THE ultimate ‘fi xers’ in the
helicopter fraternity have been
singled out for their global deeds.
The Mobile Air Support
Unit – more commonly known
as MASU – have been an ever-
THE RN’s oldest surface ship
present feature in Afghanistan
(we’re excluding HM Ships
for years in support of British
Victory and Caroline) was
operations (see the ‘blob’ on our
formally welcomed back into
page 2 map...).
the Fleet with a rededication
The team, based at Fleetlands
ceremony in Portsmouth.
in Gosport, is responsible
HMS Liverpool was out
for all ‘on the spot’ repairs
of action for most of 2009
to helicopters damaged on
courtesy of a nine-month
operations either by enemy fire or
upgrade in her home port.
Guest of honour at the
Those repair jobs range from
rededication ceremony was
patching up skin struck by
Lady Strathcona, who launched
small arms fire and coping with
the ship in Birkenhead in 1980
airframe fatigue to repairing
as the wife of the then defence
significant damage caused by
minister Lord Strathcona.
She joined family and friends
Although MASU is a Royal
of the 260 crew members
Navy unit, it’s also responsible
and guests from the ship’s
for in-theatre repair jobs to
namesake city for the event at
helicopters in the RAF and Army
South Railway Jetty.
The hour-long ceremony was
And despite the focus being
conducted by the Venerable
on helicopter operations in
John Green, Chaplain of the
Afghanistan, where there is a
Fleet. The principal Royal
permanent detachment providing
Navy guest, Commander-In-
24/7 cover, the MASU engineers
Chief Fleet Admiral Sir Trevor
have also flown out to Arizona,
Soar inspected a guard of
Kenya, Columbia and Japan in
26 members of the ship’s
the past 12 months.
That worldwide commitment
Liverpool’s CO, Cdr Ollie
has earned the small team a
Hutchinson, said the ceremony
bronze medal from the Royal
was another important
Aeronautical Society – the
milestone in the venerable
professional organisation for the
global aerospace community.
“The award was completely
“It is a tremendous day
unexpected – so we are
for the ship and the ship’s HHeads role for Dukeeads role for Duke
delighted,” said Lt Cdr Andy
company and we look forward
Dunn, MASU repair manager.
to sailing again,” he told guests.
“It reflects the hard work
“I have been fortunate
THE last act of Iron Duke’s record-breaking
her US Coast Guard team who made another successful drugs
of our helicopter repair teams
enough to serve in HMS
Caribbean deployment saw the frigate in Trinidad
in Afghanistan and Iraq – and
Liverpool three times in my
– but not for a jolly.
This time the drugs were thrown overboard before the US team
throughout the world – over the
could seize them, but it was another important success in the
“Each time I return I fi nd
The Type 23 was charged with protecting more than 50
last five years.”
continuing fi ght against narcotics traffi cking.
the Liverpool spirit enduring
international heads of state: Gordon Brown, Australia’s Kevin
and invigorating. She is a
Rudd, Canada’s Stephen Harper, Trinidad and Tobago’s George
Also on this fi nal counter-narcotics patrol, the Type 23 also met
Richards, and a whole host of other leaders who head the family
up with the amphibious assault ship USS Wasp and shared a double From Brunei
remarkable ship and I am proud
to command her.”
of nations in the Commonwealth. Oh, and the Queen and Duke of
replenishment at sea with the Dutch tanker HNLMS Amsterdam.
Rounding off the ceremony
Edinburgh were there too.
And then it was time to turn for home: a 14-day uneventful
and in keeping with Royal Navy
So not too much pressure on 180 men and women…
‘cruise’ across the North Atlantic.
tradition, the youngest male
A day was spent alongside Chaguaramas in Trinidad ad
Fate had other plans...
IF YOU thought 2009 was ‘just’
and female ratings on board cut
fi rst to allow the Iron Ducks to meet their local coastguarrd
Four days into her passage home, the frigate picked up
about Afghanistan when it came
a rededication cake in front of
counterparts and receive a briefi ng from Foreign Offi ce e
aa mayday .
to military operations, allow
One of the crew of the motor cruiser Ocean Mercury was
HMS Bulwark to demonstrate
The refi t, carried out in
As with all good military operations, the protection
seriously ill with severe abdominal pains and the vessel
Portsmouth by BVT Surface
mission had to have a codename (Thaler – an historic
was making very slow progress towards land.
Being 16,000 tons of battleship
Fleet (now BAE Systems
German silver coin, if you were wondering) and
Falmouth Coastguard were unable to find any other
grey she couldn’t get anywhere
Surface Ships), included
an acronym (CHOGM – Commonwealth Heads of
vessels in the area able to assist and called on the Iron
near Helmand (obviously – Ed).
upgrades to the ship’s weapons
But by the time the curtain
and sensors and refurbishment
For three days while the leaders met in Port of Spain, the
...who were some 1,100 miles from Ocean Mercury’s
came down on the Noughties,
of generators and main
ship was in defence watches, sailing from Chaguaramas at t
Britain’s amphibious flagship
action stations, hovering in international waters off the coast
(Beginning of 1,500-mile dash.)
had conducted no fewer than ten
Liverpool is about to embark
of Trinidad, working with other Commonwealth warships and
The frigate made maximum speed for the next 24 hours, then
exercises in 2009.
on several weeks of Operational
coastguard vessels to track air and maritime traffi c and passing
launched her Lynx ‘Charger’ at the limit of its range with the ship’s
The year began in cold home
contacts of interest to the islands’ coastguard.
doctor, Surg Lt Richard Rennie, aboard.
waters putting Royals ashore on
Later in the year she’s due to
In gratitude for the sailors’ efforts, Foreign Offi ce Minister
When Charger found the boat, Surg Lt Rennie was lowered on
the beach... and ended in cold
serve as the air defence escort
Baroness Kinnock visited the frigate to hear of the ship’s record-
to Ocean Mercury, where he decided the casualty was safe to be
home waters putting Royals
for HMS Ark Royal when the
breaking drug seizure mission fi rst-hand from the ship’s company.
winched up – which he was.
ashore on the beach.
carrier leads the RN’s fl agship
Six offi cers and men also had the opportunity to meet HRH the
Then it was back to Iron Duke briefly, who continued her journey
The beginning was South West
deployment of 2010 to the
Duke of Edinburgh at a reception held ashore in Tobago.
eastwards then launched Charger again at maximum range to take
Sword, staged in Cornwall.
Before arriving in Trinidad, there was still time for the Iron Ducks
the sailor to hospital in the Cape Verde islands, where he’s making
The last act of 2009 was Lupus
to squeeze in one fi nal drugs bust.
a full recovery.
(no, we’ve no idea why they
The return of
Patrolling in the eastern Caribbean, the frigate spotted two (End of 1,500-mile dash.)
picked a wolf-like codename)
vessels exchanging cargo – “coopering” as it is termed in the Iron Duke’s now home, returning to Portsmouth in time
working with the Commando
region. for Christmas. Post festive/deployment leave, and a spot of
Logistic Regiment off
Tracking the smaller, go-fast vessel as it headed towards land maintenance, the ship will be back in action on exercises around
Browndown Beach near Gosport.
using the warship’s thermal image camera, Iron Duke despatched the UK.
In between there was the
‘small’ matter of leading the
UNDERGOING a series of Taurus task group featuring
rigorous trials right about now (deep breath) Cyprus Wader
is the good ship Ramsey, fresh
● Towed in the hole... Sailors keep a close watch
(in Cyprus), Egemen (Turkey),
from an overhaul in Rosyth.
as Iron Duke’s towed array sonar is unravelled for a
Red Alligator (Saudi Arabia),
After spending more than
test run Picture: LA(Phot) Simmo Simpson, FRPU East
Shomodro Torongo (Bangladesh),
two and a half years in the Gulf Bersama Shield (Malay
in support of operations in Iraq, Peninsula), Commando Rajah
helping to survey the waters, (Brunei) and Aquatic Taurus
as well as working with the (Mediterranean).
region’s navies, the Sandown- By the time Taurus ended in
class ship returned to Faslane the summer, Bulwark had added
in March. 53,000 miles to the odometer.
As sister HMS Bangor Post-summer leave, the ship
emerged from Babcock’s hands could be found hosting visitors
in Rosyth last summer, Ramsey for Navy Days, sending sailors to
headed up the Firth of Forth for County Durham for an affiliated
her refit. visit and taking loved ones to
And three months later, out sea for a families day, while her
she came. inherent commando unit, 4
During her time in Rosyth, Assault Squadron Royal Marines,
shipwrights and engineers conducted infantry training.
fitted Seafox, the successor After all that, plus four weeks
to the ‘yellow submarine’ mine of maintenance in Devonport, the
disposal system, painters ship returned to sea for the next
added slicker paint, and round of exercises, CLR Logex
revamped the mess decks (Commando Logistic Regiment
among other tweaks and logistic exercise) then Lupus.
overhauls. So that was 2009. And not a
The ship underwent sea trials sprout in sight... unless her new
before Christmas and resumes CO lifted the ban on the Devil’s
them this month. vegetable.
SWORD MAKERS TO THE ROYAL MARINES
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