8 NAVY NEWS, JUNE 2011
Saint set for Gulf duties
HMS St Albans was due to sail from Portsmouth for a six-month deployment to the Indian Ocean and Gulf as Navy News went to press. The Type-23 frigate will be taking over duties from HMS Iron Duke (see bottom of page) and will be patrolling busy shipping lanes and providing security for the region alongside other coalition forces.
Her work will include counter- terrorism, anti-piracy operations, exerci ses supported by coalition par tner s’ naval forces and wider regional engagement to support and promote the UK’s interests in the area.
Pictures: LA(Phot) Stu Hill
Since her return from the Middle East in August last year St Albans has undertaken a variety of jobs, including a period of training off the coast of Plymouth and Scotland to prepare her for this deployment.
five months preparing for spent
said: “HMS the
deployment and is now ready to deliver.
output; whether that is patrolling the high seas to reassure or escort, actively looking for acts of smuggling or piracy, training or exercising with other navies or engaging in diplomatic efforts from alongside. “Given the political climate in our anticipated operating area, or indeed the Eastern Mediterranean before we even get there, we must be prepared to cover the full gamut of naval tasking from routine to high intensity operations and be able to switch between them with traditional flexibility. “HMS St Albans sails today ready to do just that.”
Down to bare bones
WITH more than six months to go before she is ready for sea again, HMS Kent is at the ‘low point’ of her major refit. The Type 23 has been high and
dry at Rosyth since last November, and now everything that needs ripping out or stripping down has been attended to, and work is well under way in preparation for putting her all back together again, with a fair bit of new kit to be installed into the bargain. The ship is due back on front- line duty in the autumn of 2012. See next month for more details of Kent’s progress.
h “Influence will be our key
Her Commanding Officer, Cdr Tom Sharpe, St Albans has
Black Duke prepares to take on the freebooters
THERE might be plenty of
room in the docks of Salalah in Oman, but moving a Royal Navy ship to her berth is still
a precision manoeuvre. In the picture (above) AB
‘JT’ Terry stands ready to throw a heaving line to an Omani dockyard worker. as HMS Monmouth glides smoothly alongside.
The visit to one of the largest ports in the region came early in the Black Duke’s programme of anti-piracy patrols in the Gulf of Aden, which merges into the Arabian Sea somewhere to the south west of Oman’s second city. The frigate has replaced HMS
Cornwall (now back in the UK) scouring the waters east of Suez for criminal activity.
l A firefighting exercise in the main machinery room of HMS Monmouth while en route to the Gulf of Aden
Before raising the Operation Calash banner, Monmouth received stores and – most importantly – information from F99 about how to deal with the pirate menace.
Monmouth left Devonport at the
end of March and made a couple of pit stops (Gibraltar and Souda Bay in Crete) on her way east. En route,
overhauled HMS Invincible, being towed by tugs to a breaker’s yard in Turkey. A few Black Dukes who had served on the old carrier took a last look at Vince; it was, said logistics
Cdr Matt di Maio, “a poignant moment seeing the Falklands veteran at sea for the final voyage.” Monmouth’s brief visit to the
Rock permitted the obligatory race to the top, football and rugby fixtures against the local Combined Services and Barbarians respectively, and some exercising with the Gibraltar Squadron.
As for Souda, it’s the standard
port of call for NATO vessels about to head east of Suez; its ranges are used to test all radars and sensors, ready for the tasks ahead.
While the Black Duke’s kit was
tweaked, her Royal Marines from Fleet Protection Group honed their skills with the ship’s own boarding team and the Black Knight, Monmouth’s 815 NAS Lynx. And the usual round of drills and shipboard exercises continued. As the Type 23 sailed through
Suez, there was an appreciable change on board. “Among the ship’s company there
was a real sense that they were entering the operational
said CO Cdr Dean Bassett. “There was a change in mindset aboard – every member of the ship’s company focused on their role ensuring that Monmouth can react quickly to any situation.” ‘Any
situation’ covers a wide
range of possibilities as Monmouth has a vast domain (the Red and Arabian Seas, Indian Ocean and Gulf) and, aside from counter- piracy, the Black Duke will be asked to perform counter-smuggling and counter-terrorism sweeps and take part in international naval exercises.
Rare link-up in the Middle East
LEADING her much larger compatriot through the calm waters of the Gulf, minehunter HMS Grimsby meets up with HMS Iron Duke for a rare link-up. Grimsby’s about to end her two-year- plus tour of duty in the Middle East and return to the cooler surroundings of Faslane. Iron Duke is making her debut in the Gulf and, in this instance, is shaking off the cobwebs after a fortnight in Dubai. The city was the choice for the
Type 23 frigate’s mid-deployment stand-down, permitting essential work on the ship and a little R&R for the ship’s company in the Gulf’s top holiday destination – as well as two important visits. Alan Duncan, Minister for International Development,
was invited aboard for a briefing on the challenges encountered – and contribution made – by the RN and RFA in the Indian Ocean in the fight against piracy. And shortly after came the Armed Forces Pay Review
Body, the group of experts which provides the MOD with independent advice on the pay and allowances. With the task of protecting Iraq’s oil terminals now over – F234 completed the UK’s eight-year mission with the final patrol of the Al Basrah platform in April – the role of the RN’s Gulf frigate has assumed a wider role, providing support and reassurance to seafarers in the region.
Picture: LA(Phot) James Crawford
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