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HMS Penzance RFA Argus

HMS Ark Royal HMS Albion HMS Ocean HMS Sutherland HMS Liverpool RFA Fort George RFA Largs Bay RFA Wave Ruler 814 NAS 815 NAS 1(F) Sqn

HMS Sabre/Scimitar HMS Somerset IMAT HMS Northumberland

HMS Chatham RFA Diligence




HMS Daring HMS Gloucester

HMT Lancastria Fleet Focus

IT HAS been a month of bitter sacrifice for the men of 40 Commando (see page 7) around Sangin in Helmand province, tempered by progress made by the green berets (see pages 8-9).

With the bulk of media focus on operations in Afghanistan, it is easy to forget about the RN’s constant commitment to stability in Iraq.

HMS St Albans is currently patrolling the country’s oil platforms, but she broke away from that duty briefly to exercise with Kuwait’s armed forces (see page 10). The Saint’s time in the northern Gulf is coming to a close; she’ll soon be replaced by HMS Somerset which is making her way east – practising for the demanding conditions she’ll face in the region in high summer (see opposite). But for HMS Atherstone it’s Gulf no more as the minehunter’s 2½ year stint in Bahrain came to a close (see right). Also home in Pompey is HMS York, who has completed her six-month tour of duty around the Falklands (see page 4)... ...while HMS Portland is getting to grips with that task (see

In the North Atlantic, the Auriga task force – HMS Ark Royal, Sutherland, Liverpool and RFA Fort George – has been joined on the other side of the Atlantic by the amphibious element of the group – HMS Albion, Ocean and RFA Largs Bay. There’s news from the carrier strike group on pages 20-21, from Albion on page 5 and Ocean on page 13 (aside from Auriga, the latter’s also hosted her sponsor, Her Majesty the Queen). The war against pirates east of Suez was temporarily halted as HMS Chatham sailed into the teeth of a cyclone to save all 23 crew on a foundering car transporter (see page 5). Scores of sailors and airmen – including elements of 847 and 848 NAS – were on hand on Dartmoor for the 50th anniversary of the Ten Tors challenge in case walkers got into difficulty (see page 18).

rip-roaring time at OST (see page 17) and HMS Daring which passed through the Navy’s ‘MOT’ team for the first time (see the centre pages). Daring’s sister HMS Dauntless is now formally commissioned into the Fleet, while the third Type 45 destroyer, HMS Diamond, has completed her sea trials and is gearing up for her inaugural entry to Portsmouth (see page 23).

returned to Faslane following her five-month stint with a NATO mine warfare force; her place has been taken by her sister HMS Penzance (see page 6).

And at the opposite end of the age spectrum, Britain’s oldest active warship, HMS Sceptre, has completed her final deployment, bringing the curtain down on nearly four decades’ service by submarines of the Swiftsure class (see page 4). Also on the subject of final deployments, HMS Walney has

All these operations – and more – are directed by the team

at Fleet Operations in Northwood. We take a look behind the scenes on page 28.

green beret reservists being granted the Freedom of Liverpool (see page 22). HMS Raider and HMS Monmouth escorted the ‘Little Ships’ to Dunkirk for 70th anniversary commemorations of the 1940 evacuation from the continent (see page 11). Talking of 70th anniversaries, Raider’s sister HMS Archer was taking part in events to mark Charles de Gaulle’s appeal to Frenchmen after the fall of his native land; before that she sailed to Newcastle for Operational Sea Training (see page 15). Which brings us neatly on to HMS Gloucester which had a

The 60th anniversary year of RMR Merseyside closed with the

page 6) and paying her respects at the monuments to the men of 1982 (see page 22).

Crazy day for the Crazy A

DAD’s home... A youngster plays with his father’s medal while his brother clings on to the senior rating as HMS Atherstone’s Gulf odyssey ends.

After more than two years in Bahrain, how fi tting there was Gulf weather to greet the ship on her return to the UK. Well, 20˚C and sunshine mixed with clouds – but that’s about as good as you’ll get in the Solent in the spring.

There were 150 family members waiting for the 45 or so ship’s company of the Crazy A in Portsmouth. Also on hand to welcome Atherstone home were sailors from her sister ships Cattistock, Quorn and Hurworth. The latter have all served aboard

HMS Archer 800/801 NAS

HMS Monmouth HMS Raider


HMS Portland HMS Clyde RFA Black Rover

HMS Sceptre

HMS Talent HMS St Albans HMS Enterprise HMS Chiddingfold HMS Middleton HMS Pembroke HMS Grimsby RFA Bayleaf RFA Lyme Bay RFA Cardigan Bay

HMS Kent

40 Cdo/845 NAS/846 NAS/ 854 NAS/FDG/MASU

Plus one ballistic missile submarine on patrol somewhere beneath the Seven Seas

Atherstone – or possibly her sister Chiddingfold – as part of the rotation of Hunt-class crews in the Gulf to maintain the constant RN minehunting presence. Five crews have passed through the Crazy A since the ship left Portsmouth at the beginning of 2008. Four mine warfare vessels are based in Bahrain – two Hunts and two Sandowns – working with Gulf navies to foster closer relations and honing minehunting skills in a particularly challenging environment. Bahrain to Blighty is a long

way (6,500 miles roughly) and the endurance of a Hunt class is relatively limited, so there were stops on the return journey in Oman and Djibouti and longer visits to Malta and Alicante.

Atherstone for the stint in the Gulf and the homeward journey were the longest serving of the fi ve ship’s companies to embark during the ship’s protracted deployment. “We’re proud to have achieved so much and to have overcome so many challenges,” said CO Lt Cdr Gordon Ruddock.

“The deployment to the Gulf and the return to the UK is testament to the resilience of even the smallest ships of the Royal Navy and our continued ability to deploy, sustain and recover units all over the world.” HMS Chiddingfold is still in the

The last crew to take charge of

Gulf, while Atherstone’s place has been taken by HMS Middleton. Picture: LA(Phot) Dave Jenkins, FRPU East

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