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‘A new experience for so
YOU wait six months for
a warship and then three
turn up in the space of six
10.45am, HMS Bulwark.
1.45pm, HMS Somerset. 4.45pm,
HMS Ocean.
The Taurus 09 deployment
ended, as it began, on a grey
day in Devonport (albeit with a
difference of about 15˚C).
It’s been more than a decade
since such a task group was
mustered by the RN and sent to
the Far East.
At its peak the task group
numbered ten surface vessels, one
nuclear submarine, one tailored
air group and one commando
group (40 Cdo) – 3,300 men and
YOU won’t see much of HMS women in all.
Westminster in her home port for They reached 114˚E – or for
several months as she undergoes a those who longitude’s a little hazy,
£11m revamp in Devonport. Brunei.
The Portsmouth-based frigate On their way there and back,
is the latest of the Type 23 fleet the sailors and marines exercised
to receive the next-generation with the Armed Forces of Saudi
Seawolf missile system which is Arabia, Yemen, Bangladesh,
currently undergoing trials with Singapore, Malaysia, Australia
HMS Sutherland. and New Zealand.
The existing trackers which Commando Rajah in Brunei
are the ‘ears’ of the air defence was the high-point of the exercises,
system are being refurbished intended to test all the ships and
and the computer wizardry Royals had learned on the journey
underneath them completely east in the demanding riverine
overhauled. and jungle environment of the
The result effectively doubles sultanate.
the range at which the ship For the record, Taurus
should be able to intercept comprised at various times HM
incoming missiles. Ships Bulwark, Ocean, Argyll,
Whitehall reckons the Somerset, Echo, Trafalgar and
SWMiLU (Sea Wolf Mid-Life Talent, RFAs Mounts Bay, Lyme
Update) will allow Britain’s Bay, Fort Austin and Wave Ruler,
frigate fleet to track targets the 40 Commando, 539 Assault
size of a cricket ball travelling at Squadron RM, Fleet Diving
twice the speed of sound from Unit 2, 820 and 847 NAS, USS
more than 20 miles away – and Mitscher, FS Dupleix.
launch a salvo of two Seawolves Visitors included the former
to destroy them. and present First Sea Lords,
As well as the next-generation Admiral Band and Stanhope
Seawolf system, Westminster respectively, a film crew from
(pictured above by PO(Phot)
Granada TV producing the next
Sean Clee in the ‘frigate shed’ at
series of Warship for Channel 5,
Devonport) will receive a new
and defence industry bigwigs who
‘brain’ – her command system
used some of the task force as a ● Father’s day... A hug for dad from AB(Sea) C Wilkinson as Ocean returns to Devonport and (right) a look of love from HMS Somerset’s AB
co-ordinated the air, surface and
backdrop for a sales exhibition in Tony Lee Pictures: LA(Phots) Dave Hillhouse and ‘Chilli’ Carney, FRPU West
sub-surface battle – DNA(2).
It’s also becoming standard
Less welcome visitors were held In the six months that the back at it I will realise how w and wa e returned in wet (just five – Taranto, Souda Bay,
across the frigate fleet and
at bay; HMS Somerset supported helicopter carrier had been away, much fun I’ve had.” weather, nothing changes,” Sembawang, Valletta and Gib).
shares much of the technology
the concerted effort against his oldest brother Tom walked Proud mum Wendy sighed Buls wark’s CO Capt She did, however, add more
and features found on Type 45
Somali pirates by working with through the gates of HMS added: “Seeing the Wayne Keble. than 35,000 nautical miles to the
Yemen’s coastguard and gathering Raleigh... and out again nine three boys together all “We did have a odometer, work with vessels from
Rather than designing bespoke
intelligence on the suspected weeks later as a fledgling naval in their uniform was the rapturous welcome to 16 nations and provide fuel and
kit for the RN to power this
brigands by flying her Lynx up airman. best day of our lives. make us feel at home other supplies on 100 occasions.
new system, Whitehall is buying
and down the coast. Tom is the third Mather to join “As a nation we tend to to again. “Once we were east of Suez,
computer technology ‘off the
On the way home through Suez, the Royal Navy; middle brother only hear the bad things ngs “This was the largest Wave Ruler became the sole
shelf’ which makes DNA(2)
81 Somerset officers and sailors Courtney is currently aboard about young people, but one naval task group to go support ship to the group. The
cheaper and easier to maintain.
‘rowed’ the canal, each one rowing HMS Liverpool in Portsmouth, only has to look at the young men to the Far East in more flexibility and speed of this
Also on the technology
two kilometres as quickly as they although he opted for life as a and women of the Royal Navy than ten years. This was a new modern auxiliary increased the
front, Westminster becomes
could, achieving the distance in a seaman specialist. to know that our future is in safe experience for so many of us.” overall capability of the group –
the first warship to receive the
total of 10 hours 40 minutes. All three were reunited on the hands.” All the razzamatazz, pomp and far beyond that by a basic tanker,”
DII(F) e-mail/intranet/internet
All in all, said Somerset’s fl ight deck of the Mighty O. The long journey home ceremony of a homecoming isn’t said her CO Capt Rob Dorey
system – which will allow the
Commanding Officer Cdr Andrew “I’d been counting down the allowed the task force flagship for the RFA. They get the job RFA.
ship’s company to better share
Burns, in varied locations and days until I would see my family to reflect on the deployment’s done with quiet professionalism. ■ OCEAN, Bulwark, Somerset
information with the rest of the
performing varied tasks, his sailors again, especially Tom,” said Elliott. achievements (see below) and tally The task group’s supporting and Trafalgar will all be on show
Armed Forces.
had delivered “good value for “I’m delighted he has passed out some impressive statistics (see tanker, Wave Ruler, also arrived in to the public during Navy Days
Other work the ‘capital ship’
money for defence and UK plc.” of training and I couldn’t wait to opposite). Devonport (the day before the trio in Devonport (September 5-6),
will be subjected to during her
Aboard HMS Ocean, 19-year- congratulate him. But despite sailing half way of warships) – minus the fanfares. while some of Somerset’s ship’s
revamp at the hands of Babcock
old NA Elliott Mather found a “The deployment has been an around the world, there are some Although the oiler supported company will be joining the Royal
includes tweaking her Sonar 2087
friendly face in a brand new naval amazing time in my career. constants. Taurus throughout, her port visits Navy Presentation Team when it
kit and improvements to the main
uniform waiting for him. “I’m sure every time I look “We left in gloomy wet weather... were fewer and further between visits Wells on September 22.
4.5in gun which should enhance
its range and accuracy.
She’s due to return to sea in
‘Grasp these opportunities with both hands...’
Don’t forget CDRE Paul Bennett (pictured Herrick in Afghanistan and the environments. And as I’ve been going around
Navy Days...
right) directed the second half ships have been doing other So we’ve tested our people the task group, I’ve been able
of the Taurus deployment as things – we have proved that and our units extremely to say absolutely with my hand
Commander Amphibious Task we’ve still got many of the skills intensely, and we’ve learned on my heart that they’ve done
Group, taking over from Cdre and we’ve refi ned them. a huge amount about how to extremely well.
... WHICH this year are spread Peter Hudson.
The other element is our operate as a task group. The thing that people have
over the weekend of September Here he outlines the lessons
underwater warfare capability – It’s something that we aspire talked to me about is the variety
5-6. and achievements of the largest we’ve exercised over 300 hours, to do quite a lot, we haven’t of their experiences.
Aside from attractions amphibious force the Royal the sort of thing that we’ve done done it as much as I think we We’re all professional people
battleship grey, there will be an Navy has sent to the Far East in very little of. would like to. so being able to see amphibious
extensive RM presence at the a decade. There are very few It is the fundamental capability sat off Brunei with six
show, including a demonstration opportunities to exercise these warfi ghting unit that the Navy or seven ships all putting Royal
of how the commandos deal with

TAURUS has been a real very important capabilities, so would deliver. Marine Commandos on to the
pirates. success. It’s gone as well when we do we must grasp The ships have performed so beach at three o’clock in the
As well as that display on and as we could have possibly them with both hands which is strongly, and the fact that we’ve morning, with helicopters and
above the water, there will be a hoped for, in that we’ve achieved what we’ve done. been able to do that 10,000 landing craft all over the place is
substantial marines exhibition everything that we set out and And then fi nally, there has miles away from the United a real buzz.
ashore, with kit including the more. been the engagement with Kingdom and at such high People have also told me
Viking and Jackal vehicles, The Navy has proven here that about 17 different nations, some levels of operational intensity, as I’ve gone around, that
hovercraft, and artillery all on it can absolutely do the business regular partners (like the United is testament to what they’ve this wasn’t really just a six-
show. The men of 42 Cdo, 539 that Defence needs from it. States and the French) but many achieved – whether that’s a month deployment – it was a
Assault Squadron and RM and The two major exercises in (like Saudi Arabia, Bangladesh chef, an engineer, or a warfare six-month deployment plus a
29 Commando Regiment RA will Turkey and Brunei have truly and Yemen) are high-priority specialist. good six months of pretty hard
be on hand to explain their roles. proven that we’ve got a really countries for us because of their learnt lessons about our ships We had up to 3,500 people preparation.
Ticket prices range from £3 for sound amphibious capability. support for counter-terrorism. and aircraft and submarines in involved in Taurus – Royal So they’re looking forward to
children to £20 for a two-day pass And after a little bit of time We have learned hundreds of how they operate in all these Marines, Royal Navy and Royal some well-earned leave, seeing
for adults if you buy in advance. without exercising it – because lessons. various different climates – and Fleet Auxiliary, plus around 250 their families.
Details at www.royalnavy.mod.
the Royal Marines have been
We have learned lessons we’ve operated in temperate, US Navy personnel aboard the
I couldn’t be more delighted
heavily committed to Operation
about ourselves, we’ve certainly desert, riverine and jungle Mitscher.
with what they’ve done.

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