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6 NAVY NEWS, SEPTEMBER 2010


Echo feels the pull of Gravity


REWARD for completing Operational Sea Training and a sustained period of survey work in Cardigan Bay for HMS Echo came with a trip to the Emerald Isle.


The survey ship enjoyed her mid-leg stand down of a lengthy work-up and regeneration period in Dublin, a city fabled for its hospitality. And it lived up to expectations


for many of the ship’s company who were paying their fi rst visit to Eire.


Organised tours to Trinity College and Kilmainham Gaol (where leaders of Irish rebellions, including later premier Éamon de Valera, were incarcerated) were arranged for the Echoes. They were well attended but not as much (oddly) as a look around the Guinness Storehouse where the tour ended with a free pint of the ‘black stuff’ overlooking Dublin in the famous Gravity Bar, which offers 360˚ views of the Irish capital from a vantage point 120 metres above street level. “Dublin’s always been a vibrant


and welcoming place – that was obvious once again to all my ship’s company,” said CO Mike O’Sullivan, who has numerous personal ties with the city. “With our regeneration package now nearing completion, the visit was a well-deserved break for us all before continuing to prepare materially and mentally for our forthcoming deployment.” His ship’s now resumed survey duties around the British Isles.


Drama – but no crisis


WE KNOW Wafus can be a bit theatrical, but 771 NAS took it that extra mile with two ‘dramatic’ rescues on the same night.


Pictures: LA(Phot) Jenny Lodge, FRPU East


Sea King Rescue 193 was scrambled from Culdrose to pick up a 47-year-old woman who collapsed at the Minack open-air theatre near Land’s End. The casualty was airlifted to


Royal Cornwall Hospital while, in the finest traditions of theatre, the show – Shakespeare’s Love’s Labour’s Lost – went on. Barely was that rescue complete than the controllers at Culdrose received an SOS from Oscar Wilde. MS Oscar Wilde, that is, an Irish Ferries vessel passing between Land’s End and the Scillies.


Rigg was winched on to the 31,000-tonne ferry to assess the condition of a casualty; he quickly determined the gentleman needed airlifting to hospital at Treliske, which Rescue 193 duly did.


Aircrewman CPO Dave Qatar lessons


STALKING the upper deck, carbines at the ready, the boarding team of HMS Somerset shows how the RN and RM conducts their business in the Gulf


and Indian Ocean. The demonstration by the party


was just one laid on by the men and women of the Type 23 frigate for senior and junior officers from Qatar (the latter are rather more accustomed to daytime temperatures of 45˚C than the Brits...). Somerset’s the latest in a series


of RN vessels to work with the Qataris this year; her sister HMS St


Albans and minehunters


Atherstone and Chiddingfold have all worked with Qatar units in 2010 as part of wider efforts to engage with the military of friendly Gulf states. Somerset left her ‘home from


home’ – Bahrain, hub of RN operations east of Suez – and made the short journey (c.120 miles) to Qatar’s capital. The warship hosted a lunch for senior members of the Qatar Emerati Navy and Coastguard, headed by Col Abdullah M Al Baker,


the acting director of


On the Square: the Band of HM Royal


Marines School of Music (23 tracks, 69 mins)


Included on this album of popular marches to set the feet tapping and pulse racing are: When the Saints Go Marching In, Sussex by the Sea, Thunderbirds (the fi lm Music), The Little Bugler, Swing Along, Light of


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operations and training. He was one of a number in


the group of visitors who had enjoyed initial offi cer training at Britannia Royal Naval College in Dartmouth. “They were visibly proud of their association with BRNC and enjoyed recalling fond memories of their time there,” said Somerset’s Commanding Offi cer Cdr Andrew Burns.


naval issues with a cross-section of the ship’s company on patrol. His flying visit to the region also saw the admiral drop in on minehunters Chiddingfold and Pembroke in Bahrain, plus the British and US headquarters in the kingdom – UK Maritime Component Command and Fifth Fleet respectively. It is from Bahrain that


And so down to the nitty gritty. On sailing from Doha, nine junior Qatari offi cers joined Somerset as part of their sea training programme to widen their knowledge of maritime security operations and the work of the Royal Navy in the region. Lt Cdr Keith Mabbott,


Somerset’s operations offi cer, guided the visitors through a series of demonstrations as they toured (almost) every inch of the frigate. The bridge team explained


modern navigational techniques (aided by the ship’s WECDIS computerised chart and information system); the ops room team laid on a simulated air defence exercise; and the mixed Navy-commando boarding team climbed into sea boats, zipped around the Gulf, scrambled up a rope ladder and searched Somerset for ne’er-do-wells (they may, or may not, have found several...). “The Qatari offi cers’ experience


the day-to-day operations of Somerset are directed as part of the international Combined Task Force 152. Under that task force, the Gulf mission for RN frigates has expanded from the close protection of Iraq’s two oil terminals – the focal point of British naval operations in the second half of the Noughties – to wider maritime security throughout the Arabian Gulf (97,000 square miles, or slightly larger than Great Britain). But that doesn’t mean that the Khawr al Amaya and Al Basra terminals,


which Iraq’s economy relies,


upon


strangers to Somerset. The latter platform –


have become


at sea with Somerset was very well received,” said Lt Cdr Mabbott. “The importance in strengthening our ties with regional partners and demonstrating our enduring commitment to their security cannot be underestimated.” The visit by the Qataris is not the only one Somerset’s hosted, nor are they the only forces for whom the ship’s company have laid on demonstrations. CINC Fleet


Trevor Soar joined the ship by sea boat to discuss a range of


Admiral Sir


in everyday RN acronym speak known as ABOT – is the more modern and larger of the two platforms (it stretches for more than a mile and can pump oil into four waiting tankers simultaneously). Iraqi sailors and marines


provide the bulk of the security for both platforms, but as a nascent force, they’re eager to pick up tips from old hands. So enter Somerset’s firefighting team who jumped on to ABOT for a FIREX – fire exercise – to show how the RN deals with a blaze in a challenging or restricted environment.


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