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Déjà vu for
the Duck
IN THE summer of 2008, Her
Majesty’s Ship Iron Duke left
the shores of the Solent behind
to chase drug runners and help
Caribbean islands stricken by
natural disasters.
And in the summer of 2009,
Her Majesty’s Ship Iron Duke
Einstein of
left the shores of the Solent
behind to chase drug runners and
help Caribbean islands stricken
the Viking
by natural disasters...
Yes it’s a case of same ship,
different year as the Portsmouth-
JUST days before he was due to
based frigate spends the next
end his third tour of duty, Royal
six months as the RN’s Atlantic
Marine L/Cpl Robert ‘Rob’
Patrol Ship (North).
Richards succumbed to injuries
And if the 2009 deployment is
from a Taleban bomb blast.
like the 2008 one, it should prove
The Viking crewman (pictured
The Iron Duck was praised for
above) was mortally wounded
her work in the Turks and Caicos
when his armoured vehicle
and Cayman Islands in the wake
triggered an enemy mine during
of Hurricanes Ike and Gustav.
a patrol with the Welsh Guards
She bagged cocaine worth £45m
near Nad e-Ali in central
and also hosted Prince William
as part of his ‘get to know the
After first-aid on the scene, he
Armed Forces’ tour.
was flown back first to Kandahar,
Since returning from the
then to the UK. He died of his Atlantic deployment, the
injuries at Selly Oak Hospital in Type 23’s undergone some
Birmingham five days after the maintenance before a four-week
attack. training package was laid on for
Known variously by fellow the ship’s company to prepare
green berets as Rob The Gob, them for the return to the
Rob The Body, Rob The Legend,
and Einstein of the Viking –
which encompassed his keenness
for banter, fitness and the Corps,
CHURNING up the waters and later when she was based in Once a thriving docklands, then Ledbury hosted a cocktail party
... and for
the 24-year-old from Betws-y-
between Mode Wheel Locks and Rosyth. a derelict wasteland, Salford Quays in company with Manchester
Coed in North Wales joined the
the Millennium Bridge, this is He’s now employed by Bovis are once again buzzing; today the URNU – somehow 150 guests
Corps back in 2002.
HMS Charger – one part of a Lendlease, whose cranes are area is home to tower blocks, were accommodated on a warship
the Sausage
After serving as a rifleman, he
three-ship ‘fleet’ dispatched in action at Salford museums (the steely with fewer than four dozen
volunteered for Viking duties in
to the heart of Manchester – – QuaQ ys building thee grey structure behindd crewc .
SIX months after raising the anti-
the spring of 2006. Since then he
approaching her destination.n. BBC’B s new canalside e ChargC er in our picture e The bigwigs weren’t the
piracy banner, HMS Cumberland
had completed two deployments
The Liverpool University headquarh ters, Media a is the Imperi ial War only visitoro s as the ship
is back tightening the vice in the
to Helmand with the Armoured
Royal Naval Unit boat and City. Museum North), threw open her gangway to
lawless waters off Somalia.
Support Group.
her Mancunian sister Biter His former shopping the public for the Sunday
The Type 22 frigate has
That experience meant he was
accompanied minehunter ship carried centres and of their visit.
relieved her Devonport ‘base
HMS Ledbury up the various entertainment With the weekend
a constant source of advice and
mate’ HMS Portland as Britain’s
Manchester Ship Canal Mancunian complexes. over, Charger and Biter
encouragement to fellow Viking
commitment to the international
for a flag-flying visit to the and Liverpudlian It was alongside returned to their base in
maritime effort to stop piracy
north-western metropolis. dignitard ies on thee the lat tter that the LivL erpool, while Ledbury
“Rob was the most savvy of
around the Gulf of Aden/Horn
Our picture was supplied journey: the respective lord triumvirate berthed for their continued southwards, first to
all the Viking operators,” said
of Africa.
by a former Ledbury man, ex lieutenants of the two cities, the weekend visit. Devonport then to Weymouth
On her last patrol of these
Capt Gaz Kearse, Queen’s Royal
LWEM(O) Steve Howard, who mayors of Salford and Manchester, There were yet more dignitaries where she was alongside for the
waters, the Mighty Sausage
Hussars, Officer Commanding
served with the ship in build and the Rector of Liverpool. to entertain upon arrival as resort’s Quayside Music Festival.
intercepted four groups of pirates
3rd Armoured Support Troop.
and seized their weapons and
“He was certainly the biggest
assorted paraphernalia.
character in the troop – his love
of amusing underpants and quick
wit ensured there was never a
dull moment for anybody.”
‘Not just any ship –
Since returning to the
West Country, the frigate has
undergone an overhaul, including
the addition of new Pacific 24
Sgt Maj Matt Tomlinson said
sea boats. Once revamped, the
few fellow commandos better
knew the theatre of operations or
the Viking than Rob Richards. the finest in the Fleet...’
ship was put through her paces
for this summer’s and autumn’s
mission with six weeks of
“Afghanistan was his back intensive training.
yard – you could see how content
LAST month she was the fastest Type Company of Farmers presented the ‘father’ full ceremonial fashion – drums beating, And so, says her Commanding
he was when out on the ground. 42 (and probably still is), this month
of the ship’s company, Executive Warrant bayonets fixed, swords drawn, Colours
Officer Capt David Dutton,
During the winter he stomped HMS York was the loudest as she let
Officer WO1 David Smith, with a sterling flying.
Cumberland and her men and
around in his black Wellington
rip with Sea Dart during trials in the
silver jug, reward for his outstanding “This was our opportunity to determine
women are “well-prepared –
boots looking like Rommel,” he
Outer Hebrides ranges.
contribution to leadership on board. the legacy of HMS York and it is beholden
ready to face the challenges
With the ceremony done, the on all of us to ensure that legacy is worthy of
The launch of the destroyer’s primary
“There was a humorous side
rededication party decamped up the A1079 the name HMS York,” Cdr Staley declared
weapon (circa £500,000 apiece...) against
After a short stop in Malta –
to Rob – especially during PT
to join the rest of the ship’s company who as the parade ended on the square in front
target drones was the latest step in the
surprisingly only the fourth in her
were already enjoying the hospitality of the famous Minster.
regeneration of the White Rose warship
20-year career – she received the
“His fellow marines would dig
Yorkshire’s county town (legend has it “We want to ensure the people of
following a substantial refit.
anti-piracy ‘baton’ from Portland
there’s a different pub in the city for every Yorkshire are rightly proud of us.
out blind to look like an extra
And talking of white roses... From north-
in the Red Sea (see pages 18-19).
day of the year...). “It is a very proud moment to represent
from Top Gun.
west Scotland the ship headed to the
It wasn’t merely the locals who were Her Majesty as the commanding officer not
“Rob would be comfortable
city for which she is named and for two
kind to the sailors there; so too were the just of any ship, but the finest in the Fleet,
in a large pair of shell suit-type
important acts in the latest stage of the
gods. The weather cleared up as the ship’s and I am also proud to present a ship’s Glasgow sign
shorts and T-shirt.
destroyer’s proud life.
company formed up for a freedom parade company who are loyal, professional,
“Time for rest now, Rob.
Given her size, York cannot navigate the
around the streets of the historic walled selfless and hard-working.”
You’ve more than done your Ouse; the closest she can realistically get
city. After a blessing by the Chaplain of Defender
duty.” is Kingston-upon-Hull on the Humber 40
The sailors were guided through York the Fleet, the Ven John Green, and
miles away. And it was there, surrounded by the Royal Signals (Northern) Band of Padre Ralph Barber, Chaplain to
WITH all of the class being ■ The late marine’s 100-plus
Armoured Support Group by affiliates, family and supporters, that the the Territorial Army and Lord Mayor Cllr the Portsmouth Flotilla, the sailors constructed on the Clyde, it is
comrades returned to their base destroyer was rededicated. David Gemmell took the salute from dispersed – possibly to one of those
only fitting that one should be
at RNAS Yeovilton in mid-June at The inclement weather ensured the Lt Sean Trevethan, Officer of the hostelries.
affiliated with the great city of
the end of their six-month tour of ceremony was conducted in the less- Guard. After a spot of maintenance, summer
their birth.
duty with praise ringing in their than-spacious hangar. Youngest crewman The marchers were leave and Operational Sea Training, the
And so it is that HMS
ears from Allied troops. AB(CIS) Benn Sievewright and Leonie accompanied by rapturous destroyer will sail south before the year’s
Defender will be bound with
The green berets, said Maj
Staley, the wife of CO Cdr Simon Staley, cut applause as they end to take over from her sister Gloucester
the people of Glasgow for the
Richard Hopkins, in charge of
the rededication cake, while the Worshipful pounded the streets in in the Falklands (see page 8).
duration of her career.
the Armoured Support Group,
The ship has been formally
had rightly earned a “formidable
affiliated with the Scottish city
reputation” for their actions in
– even before she takes to the
Afghanistan and demonstrated
water; the penultimate Type 45
“everything that epitomised
destroyer, Defender’s due to be
launched at Govan in October.
the best of the British Armed
All six Type 45 destroyers
have been or are being
He continued: “We have paid
constructed on the Clyde,
a high price for the contribution
either at BAE Systems’ Govan
we have made to the people
or Scotstoun yards (although
of Afghanistan, losing two
their bows and main masts
exceptional men [Mne Jason
have been built in Portsmouth
Mackie was killed by a bomb
by VT).
blast in May].
Glasgow enjoyed a long-
“Their spirit will live on for standing affiliation with her
many years in our unit ethos. namesake Type 42 destroyer,
They will never be forgotten for which paid off four years ago,
their contribution to our lives and and remains tied with frigate
our unit.” HMS Argyll.
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