NAVY NEWS, FEBRUARY 2011
Saving Ryan’s privates
COMMANDOS and sailors on patrol in Afghanistan have better protection against bombs thanks to special underwear being issued. Some £10m has been spent
by Whitehall on ‘pelvic body armour’ to mitigate the effects of improvised explosive devices – the insurgents’ insidious weapon of choice in Helmand which has severely maimed scores of British servicemen.
comprises protective underwear and detachable armoured modular trousers.
The new body armour
It balances protection with the necessary comfort and manoeuvrability which troops need on operations – they can wear one or more protective layers depending on the mission. The fi rst layer is a pair of silk
Gulf debut for Iron Duke
IF IT were not for the sullen sky, this could almost be one of Her Majesty’s ships passing Dubai’s distinctive luxury waterfront hotel. In fact it’s one of Her Majesty’s ships passing Portsmouth’s distinctive (but not quite as luxurious) Spinnaker Tower. Still it won’t be long before HMS
Iron Duke is within sight of the Dubai landmark.
shorts which provides protection against shrapnel. Some 45,000 pairs have already been delivered to personnel on Operation Herrick and another 15,000 are being issued to men and women about to head to Helmand – such as 3 Commando Brigade which assumes the lead role in Afghanistan this spring. Troops can wear a second
layer of detachable pelvic body armour, which can be rolled up and clipped to a belt and then pulled through the legs to form a protective pouch – meaning mobility is not impeded. It will be issued to all troops
operating ‘outside the wire’ this spring.
Finally for personnel whose role demands even greater levels of protection – such as those searching for IEDs – there’s a third layer covering the upper leg and wider abdominal region. This last layer is in the fi nal stages of being designed. Preparing for Helmand mission, pages 15-17
The frigate was the third RN vessel in a week to depart these shores (see opposite), in F234’s case a six-month tour of duty in the Gulf. Iron Duke’s taking over from HMS Cumberland, on her very fi nal deployment, as Britain’s major warship in the Gulf. Although the deployment still falls under the Operation Telic banner, the mission has become much more varied in recent years to embrace wider maritime security in the region, rather than ‘merely’ protecting Iraq’s two oil platforms. The Iron Duck’s task over the coming six months include counter-terrorism and anti- piracy operations in the Gulf of Aden, the protection of those platforms, exercises and operations with regional naval forces, and work promoting and supporting Britain’s interests in the region. Iron Duke has served her nation for nearly 20 years, but this will be her fi rst appearance east of Suez.
Structural issues with the ship meant that she’s deployed either to the North Atlantic or the South.
As they’ve now been resolved, courtesy of a year in the UK undergoing maintenance and specialist training, it means that she can head to the Type 23s’ typical ‘playground’.
Indeed, the ship and her 190 men and women are “perfectly matched” for the tasks which lie ahead according to her Commanding Offi cer, Cdr Nick Cooke- Priest.
“The experience is not with the ship,
it’s with the sailors – and 50 or 60 per cent of them have been to the Gulf before, so we sail confi dent of making a tangible and worthy contribution to security and stability in the region.”
Picture: LA(Phot) Aaron Hoare, FRPU East
Penzance had a ‘brilliant deployment’
ENJOYING the surroundings of Gareloch once more after six months on NATO duties around North-West Europe are the men of HMS Penzance. The minehunter took over from her sister Walney (now paid off) as Britain’s representative in NATO’s Standing Mine Counter- Measures Group 1 in the Polish port of Gdynia, back in June. She was immediately thrust into Baltops (a contraction of Baltic Operations) with half a dozen Allied mine warfare vessels, elements of the US Sixth Fleet, plus military fi repower from Germany, Latvia, Estonia, Lithuania, Denmark, Poland, France, Sweden and Russia in the Gulf of Finland.
Since then M106 has enjoyed a whistle-stop tour of Europe dealing with dummy mines as well as the legacy of WW1 and WW2 in the waters of France, Poland, Finland, the Netherlands, the Republic of Ireland and Scotland (the NATO group joined larger Allied vessels for October’s Joint Warrior war games). “It was a brilliant deployment
but hard work. Luckily we got to stop off at a good few places including Amsterdam, Hamburg and Finland. Still, it’s really good to be home and to relax over Christmas,” said AB John Kanuy. His Commanding Offi cer Lt Cdr Steve Brown added: “The deployment was enormous fun and a hugely rewarding experience – our activities went a long way to making the seas safer. “The navies who were involved in the NATO group are among the best mine counter-measures nations in the world, and competition was very stiff to claim fi rst place.”
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