4 NAVY NEWS, JUNE 2011
‘It all got quite dramatic...’
DATELINE Libya, the small hours of Thursday May 12 2011, the western Gulf of Sirte...
Tributes to ‘little Big Man’ Deano
AN INSURGENT bomb has claimed its first victim on the current tour of duty by Royal Marines in Afghanistan. Mne Nigel Dean Mead of Lima Company, 42 Commando, was killed during a search operation in Afghanistan on Sunday May 15. The green beret, known as Deano to his friends, was involved in a search operation of suspect compounds in the Nad Ali district of Helmand. The 19-year-old was
described by his Commanding Officer, Lt Col Ewen Murchison, as “the epitome of a Royal Marines Commando. “A young man with considerable inner strength, he was selfless, warm-hearted, utterly professional, and took enormous pride in his job. “At the moment his life was cut tragically short, he was operating deep in insurgent- controlled territory, where the threat of improvised explosive devices was high, demonstrating characteristic bravery and unwavering loyalty to his fellow marines.” Words echoed by Cpl Al
Morrell, the Fire Support Group Section Commander, who said: “It was a pleasure to have known Deano; he was an awesome guy with a great sense of humour and a shocking dress sense.
“As his section commander I
couldn’t have asked for a better marine. “He threw himself at
everything he did, a crack shot, and probably the best Marine at close quarter battle within 42 Commando, having been a demonstration man for the last two years, displaying slick drills to the unit.
“Deano displayed the finest qualities of a Royal Marine; the smallest man in the section with the largest Bergen and an even bigger grin on his face.” He concluded: “We will miss him dearly.” Born in 1991, Deano Mead
grew up in Carmarthen and joined the Royal Marines in October 2008. He earned his green beret in July 2009 as an original member of 977 Troop – the youngest marine to pass out that day.
His father Philip said: “Our Dean, our boy, our little Big Man, our hero, always wanted to be a Royal Marine and he turned out to be one of the best.”
The young commando was killed as troops from Combined Force Nad Ali (North) – a mixture of men from 42 Cdo plus Afghan National Security Forces soldiers – carried out a sweep of compounds suspected of being used as bomb factories by insurgents. Mne Mead arrived with comrades by helicopter in the Loy Mandeh wadi and was moving towards the compounds to begin the search when he was fatally injured in a blast from an improvised explosive device.
HMS Liverpool pummelled an enemy rocket battery after it opened fire on Allied warships off the besieged Libyan city of
Misrata. The words ‘Four-five, engage’
were issued after a salvo of rockets and small arms fire were aimed at Liverpool and Allied warships as they tried to stop Colonel Gaddafi’s forces mining waters off the port.
The destroyer’s main 4.5in gun responded – and silenced the pro- government battery. It’s the first time the main guns of the Royal Navy have been fired in
anger since they plastered
Saddam Hussein’s defences in the opening moments of the 2003 Iraq campaign.
The drama began when NATO
warships moved close to the shore to intercept two small pro- Gaddafi craft off Zlitan, some 30 miles west of the contested city of Misrata, with Liverpool’s Lynx overhead providing aerial cover. Government forces responded and tracer streaked across the Mediterranean towards the warships and Lynx, all of which took evasive action. “It all got quite dramatic from
there,” said Liverpool’s CO Cdr Colin Williams, whose ship now moved in to engage the foe. The veteran destroyer’s main 4.5in gun was able to respond at longer range than other NATO ships off Libya. And
so with LS Hayley
Richards on the button and Cdr Williams in the hot seat, the Type 42 opened fire. “It was very humbling to see my
ship’s company working so calmly and quietly,” said Cdr Williams. “There was no jingoism,
shouting, the atmosphere was cool as people went about their jobs.” Having silenced the shore Liverpool withdrew.
The action lasted no more than 30 minutes and Allied forces sustained no casualties. “This is not the first time we’ve been to Action Stations for real,”
said Officer of the Watch Lt Ebony Dalton.
general alarm. It was a well-oiled machine.” As Liverpool moved out
of harm’s way following the bombardment “the release of tension was audible”, said Lt Dalton.
taken on hearing
were well versed in the actions to
“The whole ship’s company be
operations, striking at the Libyan leader’s war machine. Two fighter controllers – Lt Grahame
As for the two craft which sparked the original NATO actions that morning, they were beached before they could lay their deadly ‘eggs’. Liverpool’s
darkness of May 12 received international media coverage and were another reminder that the men and women of the Royal Navy are in harm’s way off Libya. As Navy News went to press, Crazy
conducting her second sustained patrol off the troubled North African state, enforcing United Nations Security Council resolutions – preventing arms and munitions reaching Gaddafi and ensuring aid reaches the free peoples of Libya. Perhaps the most unsung element of Liverpool’s mission is to help direct NATO aerial
Red Chicken was actions in the
French exchange officer Lt Nick ‘Steaming’ Lesbats – have, said Cdr Williams, “been working above and beyond in support of the No-Fly Zone over Libya”. RN fighter controllers are expected to carry out ten hours of direction every six months on exercises. Off Libya, Lts Flint and Lesbats
have clocked up 40 hours’ fighter control apiece in a single month – which gives an idea of the scale of the international operation, and the strain on the Liverpool ops room. And for
second oldest active warship was directing all Allied aerial activity in the No-Fly Zone. Typically the work is carried
five hours Britain’s
out by AWACS patrol aircraft, but when both E3 Sentries charged with the task had to return to base with defects one morning, Liverpool plugged the gap. “At any one time, the zone
is patrolled by several NATO fighters and fighter bombers, all supported by a chain of airborne tankers and maritime patrol aircraft,” explained Lt Flint.
‘Freddie’ Flint and
Liverpool’s air team is smaller than that in an E3 – and there are fewer radios too – but the destroyer’s air warfare officers Lt Cdrs Ally Pollard and Jon Goulder knuckled down to the unexpected duty.
marshalled the picture and LAC Henry Parish, the ship’s helicopter controller,
pressed into the unfamiliar but exciting role of passing targeting information to RAF and NATO strike aircraft.
destroyer Jean Bart, operating in support
A flashed message to the French
of Liverpool, had their fighter controller shaken from his bed in order to provide another voice and another radio to the team.
This went on for five hours until a working US Air Force E3 arrived on the scene and Liverpool could resume normal duties... ...which are six hours on, six
found himself The fighter controllers
l Anxious looks on Liverpool’s bridge as the destroyer carries out her UN peacekeeping duties off the hostile shore of Libya
Picture: LA(Phot) Abbie Gadd, FRPU East
Tea, cakes, sandwiches, crisps and sausage rolls were laid out for the occasion. In the evening, a traditional
British fish and chip supper was put on by the caterers on the flight deck. Off-watch time has also been used to raise money for one of Liverpool’s dead comrades. ET Kyle Bartlett was fatally
injured by a single punch during a brawl at a Portsmouth pub in 2009.
The 21-year-old loved the loved Liverpool,
loved being a stoker, and, said shipmates “always had a smile on his face”. His
family is determined
something good should come from his death through the Kyle Bartlett Memorial Fund and the One Punch Can Kill campaign, aimed at highlighting the dangers of binge-drinking and alcohol- related violence. Kyle’s ME department took to the rowing machines for 24 hours to support the charity. They clocked up 208 miles and, more importantly, raised £550. And just to prove that in the
midst of war, Jack and Jenny can keep their fabled sense of humour, the smallest (and possibly furriest) member of the ship’s company, Colin the Bear, is being treated to all aspects of life aboard. The cuddly toy is the mascot of Linaker Primary School on Merseyside and was donated to the ship by youngsters, who were keen to follow Colin’s adventures as he travelled the Seven Seas with the destroyer. In a break with usual RN disciplinary rules,
allowed to live in the 2F ladies mess, where LS(CIS) Emma Adams is looking after him. She’s provided Colin with his
own miniature set of overalls and ear defenders so he can assist the stokers and help out with the gash crushing.
He bagged two goals in the flight deck hockey, then helped Cdr Williams judge a karoake contest. All perfectly normal middle of a war...
hours off, as the destroyer is in defence watches. But that does not mean there has not been time for a little relaxation.
The senior rates somehow managed to arrange a ‘street party’ in the junior rates’ dining hall to mark the Royal Wedding.
Brocklesby in the line of fire
DATELINE Libya, the afternoon of Friday April 29 2011, the western Gulf of Sirte...
THE image is rather grainy and monochrome, but the
object is unmistakeable. This is a mine, laid by Gaddafi’s
forces off Misrata – and blown up by HMS Brocklesby minutes later. Crudely tethered to an
inflatable boat – sunk to serve as a makeshift ‘mooring’ – the mine packs 100kg explosive and was laid just a mile off the entrance to the Libyan port. It was one of three dumped in the waters off Misrata by pro-Gaddafi forces – who made repeated attempts to close the port.
The city has been held by rebel forces for several weeks, but is under siege from government troops who have made concerted efforts to re-take the city on land, and to halt the flow of humanitarian aid by sea. NATO forces enforcing UN
Security Council resolutions off Libya observed pro-Gaddafi forces laying three tethered mines.
“My team have handled themselves superbly in the execution of this mission reacting stoutly to the very real threat posed by rockets and artillery ashore.”
A second mine was blown up by another NATO vessel, while the third mine became detached from its mooring and floated off. Minehunters are continuing the search for it, but in the meantime the port of Misrata remains open – for aid to flow in and for civilians to leave if they wish to. “I am extremely pleased we have been able to dispose of ordnance in the approaches to Misrata that is now a vital lifeline for the delivery of humanitarian aid into Libya,” Lt Cdr Byron added. “Our actions on behalf of
Allied mine warfare forces – part of the 19-strong NATO armada in the Gulf of Sirte – were ordered in to deal with the threat.
at action stations and all ship’s company in anti-flash, her state-of- the-art sonar and Seafox disposal system were used to locate one of the mines – the latter hi-tech piece of kit provided a live video feed back to the Portsmouth-based minehunter’s ops room. With the order ‘Command
With Brocklesby closed up
approved’ from CO Lt Cdr James Byron, a charge from Seafox blew up the mine – causing a small plume of first white and then black water to rise above the surface as the device and the sunken inflatable were sent to kingdom come.
operation my crew have trained for: dealing with live mines posing a threat to legitimate shipping within sight and range of shore bombardment,” he said.
“This is exactly the kind of
NATO are directly contributing to the continued welfare of the Libyan people. “In helping to keep the port of Misrata open we are ensuring the continued flow of
medical assistance and allowing the evacuation of innocent civilians from the country.” Defence Secretary Dr Liam Fox praised the Brocklesby team for their “vital work” off Libya. “This is helping prevent Gaddafi’s forces from sealing off the port to deny medical and food supplies to the people of Misrata,” he added.
Another blow to Gaddafi from Triumph
DATELINE Libya, the evening of Monday May 16 2011, the western Gulf of Sirte...
JUST days after returning to Devonport flying the Jolly Roger, HMS Triumph returned to the Med with her bomb shop crammed with Tomahawk missiles again. That compartment has begun to empty once more. After firing six cruise missiles at strategic government targets during her first deployment off Libya, Triumph began her second tour of duty with a series of strikes on the night of May 16. The submarine’s salvo was
part of a co-ordinated effort by the RN and RAF to neutralise the bases and training facilities of Gaddafi’s Executive Protection Force – the regime’s police and intelligence agency which is used to keep the Libyan people in check – around Tripoli. As well as gathering
information on the regime’s potential opponents, the force was used to bloodily put down an anti-Government demonstration in the Libyan capital in March. Maj Gen John Lorimer, spokesman for the Chief of Defence Staff, said the facilities smashed by the RN/RAF strike “lay at the heart of the apparatus used by the regime to brutalise the civilian population”.
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