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12 NAVY NEWS, MAY 2002

Manhunt mountainin the s

• Continued from page 1 The companies which conduct-

ed the operation - Whiskey and Zulu - were joined at Bagram by Yankee Co as Navy News went to press, and X-ray Co was expected to join them within days, bringing the Commando to full strength. "Morale is very high - they had

a great operation, and it was a good opportunity to shake out and to work together with American and Afghan forces, as well as amongst ourselves," said Lt Col Harradine. "They are looking for- ward to going again." Chinooks of 27 Squadron RAF

and American aircraft were used to insert the troops into the moun- tains, and the Americans also pro- vided air cover. In announcing Operation Ptarmigan, Brigade Commander Brigadier Roger Lane said: "It's clear that the war in Afghanistan is not over. The hunt for Al Qacda and Taliban goes on. "From the outset, we said that

we were in this for the long haul, and we would stand shoulder to shoulder with the United States of America and the Coalition part- ners in the global war on terror- ism, and that is precisely what we arc doing now." Meanwhile, the search for flee-

ing Al Qacda and Taliban leaders continues offshore, where the Coalition maritime force currently stands at about 60 ships. Ten are from the United

Kingdom - task group flagship HMS Ocean, destroyer HMS York, Type 22 frigate HMS Campbeltown, Type 23 frigate HMS Portland (the Armilla patrol ship in the Gulf), and RFAs Fort Austin, Bayleaf, Fort George, Sir Tristram, Diligence.

Sir Pcrcivalc and The war goes on... Onlookers crowd the Round Tower as HMS Illustrious approaches Portsmouth Harbour.

Portsmouth last summer to lead the major maritime exer- cise Argonaut 2001, of which major wargamc Saif Sareea in

NAVY flagship HMS Illustrious and one of her escorts have returned from their extended deployment to the Middle East. The aircraft carrier


United States on September 11, the medium-term focus shifted fur- ther east, and Illustrious under- went a rapid metamorphosis from Harrier carrier to helicopter carri- er, supporting the deployment of Royal Marines in the early, crucial days of the interim Afghanistan government. This allowed the purpose-built

Oman was the highlight. But with the attacks on the

ship HMS Ocean to return to the UK for planned maintenance, and she is now back on station in the Arabian Sea as the flagship of the British maritime contribution. Illustrious, under Capt Alan

• Royal Marines from 45 Commando return to Bagram airfield near Kabul, after a day's training on Operation Jacana. Behind them is a Chinook helicopter of 27 Squadron RAF - the type of air- craft which flew Royal Marines into the mountains to launch Operation Ptarmigan.

Picture: LA(PHOT) Burgess

Illustrious returns as Ocean gets to work

Massey, returned to a huge wel- come after almost seven months away - but it was likely to have been her last major appearance before a two-year refit, which is due to begin in the autumn. Greeting the carrier, Armed

bility in operating in, and moving between, a variety of roles has once again demonstrated the utility of sea-based operations in general and the aircraft carrier in particular. "Her contribution in the war

Forces minister Adam Ingram said: "I am delighted and honoured to welcome HMS Illustrious from her highly-successful deployment, and my congratulations go out to her Commanding Officer and ship's company for a job well done. "Illustrious's outstanding flexi-

against terrorism is a source of pride for us all." Since leaving the UK early in September, the carrier spent all but 34 days at sea. The same day saw Type 22

frigate HMS Cornwall back in her home port in the West Country. Her deployment mirrored that

Picture: PO(PHOT) sieve Lewis

• Gibraltar Camp, situated in Bagram Airbase, Afghanistan. Not quite fully built, it will house most of the British service personnel currently based at Bagram - primarily 45 Commando Royal Marines and their attached supporting units.

Picture: PO(PHOT) Tony Leather

Log on to Navy News Online for regular updates on the situation in Afghanistan - and news from the Royal Navy and the Royal Marines around the world

www.navynews. co. uk

her main task became intelligence gathering in the Arabian Sea and the Gulf region, often working at some distance from Illustrious. Commanding

company and their families who have been magnificent throughout, accepting fully the requirement for the

Christmas." ship to extend over

Steve Kirby said: "We have remained at a high state of opera- tional readiness for almost seven months thanks to a team effort that has included a great deal of excellent support from the UK. "The real stars are my ship's

Officer Capt

of the carrier - she sailed for Saif Sareea at the end of the summer, then stayed in the region to fight the war on terror. She acted as flagship for Commodore Abdullah al Raisi of Oman during Saif Sareea, leading a flotilla which included two RN frigates and seven Omani ships. On completion of the exercise

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