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Living it Largs
EIGHT months in the Atlantic
Ocean are up for RFA Largs
Bay which is enjoying a break
Exceptional Richmond
in Portland after landing
soldiers, chasing drug runners,
presiding over nautical races and
celebrating birthdays.
WITH the media focus on
● Grey ship, grey skies, grey seas... HMS
The latter was no ordinary
the confl ict in Afghanistan,
Richmond approaches Portsmouth on a
anniversary, but the 250th Britain’s operations in ‘glorious’ summer’s day
birthday of Halifax Naval Base.
Iraq have almost become
Picture: LA(Phot) Karen Williams, FRPU East
Canada was the final port of
call for the auxiliary landing ship
who began her eight months away
But not by the ship’s company
9,000 miles from home.
of HMS Richmond whose six-
Largs Bay became the first
and-a-half-month deployment
of the new(ish) Bay class to
safeguarding the country’s
visit the Falklands, taking part
economy are fi nally up.
in the regular Cape Bayonet
The Portsmouth-based frigate
exercise and showing what a large
became the latest guardian of the
amphibious ship can bring to the
KAAOT and ABOT oil terminals Quorn pauses
at the tip of the Gulf.
From there she edged her
RN vessels have protected the
way up the eastern seaboard
two platforms, responsible for for tribute
of South America, via Rio and
nine tenths of Iraq’s income, since
Recife in Brazil, before taking up
Saddam Hussein was toppled six PICKING up where her sister
Atlantic Patrol North duties in
years ago. left off, HMS Quorn has taken
the Caribbean as part of Britain’s
And although British forces over from HMS Brocklesby as
commitment to her overseas
have mostly pulled out of southern
Britain’s representative in an
territories and the war on drugs.
Iraq, the Navy’s commitment there
international force dealing with
Besides conducting counter-
remains unchanged: sailors and
the detritus of confl ict.
narcotics patrols with the regional
Royal Marines are still training
The Portsmouth-based
authorities, Largs took part in
the country’s new navy, and ships
minehunter has taken her place
disaster relief exercises with
like Richmond (her sister Kent has
in NATO’s Standing Mine
search and rescue and emergency
just taken over from her) are still
Countermeasures Group 1, a
services in Jamaica and the
patrolling the terminals.
seven-strong task group which
British Virgin Islands.
If not a thankless task, then
prowls European waters dealing
In Bermuda, the amphibious
it’s certainly repetitive and most
with leftover ordnance from two
support ship served as the ‘start
defi nitely very hot, as CPO Dave
world wars as well as exercising
line’ (and host for race officials)
Hamlyn found out.
with today’s fleets.
for the Atlantic Tall Ships
Determined to give something
Quorn’s five months with
back during Richmond’s time
NATO will see the force make a
Wherever Largs Bay goes, so
away, he vowed to do a run for
rare foray across the Atlantic to
too her mascot, Vik the Viking (a
Help for Heroes.
Bermuda and New York via Ponta
small doll with very ruddy hair/
The 837 miles from John
de Portgua in the Azores.
beard). He survived an encounter
O’Groats to Land’s End seemed
More typical ‘playgrounds’ for
with an alligator in South
a little daunting so he (fi ttingly)
the group will include the Baltic,
Carolina, enjoyed a baseball
settled on a round trip from
Kiel and the waters of Belgium
game, went snorkelling in the
Richmond, Surrey, to Richmond,
and France where the focus
Caribbean, and even enjoyed a
North Yorkshire, just shy of 500
will be on disposing of wartime
night out at Hooters (sailors in a
ordnance which continues to pose
bar with scantily-clad waitresses,
In fact, pounding the Type 23’s
a danger to shipping, especially
whatever next? – Ed).
upper deck, the senior rate clocked
Sadly he and his shipmates
up some 600 miles – and collected
The waters off Normandy were
missed out on the launch of the
almost £4,000 for the Forces
particularly heavily mined six
Space Shuttle Endeavour when
decades ago – and it was there
the RFA visited Port Canaveral;
It’s not been all patrols and
that Quorn paused to pay tribute
the rocket’s launch was delayed
panting for the sailors, thankfully.
to the previous ship to bear the
by bad weather.
There was downtime in Dubai,
name (pictured above).
In all, Vik and Largs Bay
Bahrain, Kuwait (where Richmond
The previous Quorn, a Hunt-
travelled more than 30,000 miles
also hosted an offi cial reception for
class destroyer, was part of the
calling in on ten nations/overseas
the Duke of York), and Al Jubail in
vast armada safeguarding the
Saudi Arabia (which hasn’t seen a
liberation of France.
The last port of call was
British warship in fi ve years).
In the small hours of
Halifax in Nova Scotia (where
“I am extremely proud of
August 3 1944, she was struck
the RFA renewed acquaintances
the sailors on HMS Richmond
amidships – either by a German
with the Tall Ships fleet) and
who’ve worked so hard,” said
human torpedo (Neger) or by a
those 250th birthday celebrations.
Commanding Offi cer Cdr Mark
motorboat packed with explosives
The weather in Canada
Southorn. “Their contribution has
befitted the real Largs Bay
been exceptional.”
The blast tore Quorn in two
in Ayrshire: fog and drizzle –
Lest we forget that every
amidships. She sank rapidly,
perfect preparation for the ship’s
destroyer or frigate carries a ship’s
taking four officers and 126 men
company and their return to the
fl ight, the airmen of 829 NAS
down with her.
UK at the height of the British
clocked up more than 200 hours
Sixty-five years to the day (if
airborne – thanks to the efforts of
not the hour), and under suitably
“It’s fair to say that we have
their groundcrew.
sombre skies, the present-day
made an impact in all the ports A 14-strong team from Culdrose
Quorn arrived over the resting
that we have visited,” said Capt deployed with their helicopter for
place of her forebear and held a
service of remembrance, before
Trevor Iles RFA. the duration of Richmond’s tour
CO Lt Cdr Tim Neild cast a
“Supporting UK interests of duty, taking the fi rst Royal Navy
wreath into the Channel.
in both the North and South Merlin carrying a ‘defensive aids
This is the second deployment
Atlantic has presented many suite’ (protection against heat-
in a year for Quorn’s ship’s
challenges, but has been a seeking missiles) into the front
rewarding experience for all line.
Until January they were in
involved.” They were treated to a separate
the Gulf crewing one of the
homecoming from the frigate,
two Hunts, Chiddingfold and
Sailor on £1m
meeting families on the Cornish
Atherstone, supporting the Allied
minehunting mission in the
marina Still in the Gulf, centre pages region.
drugs charge
Manchester has appeared in court Sea, sun, sand and... Glasgow
charged with smuggling 12kg of
AFTER three years in the Gulf, the next foray for attend – it wouldn’t be a river festival without the
Logs Teresa Matos, 36, of
HMS Blyth was a rather shorter affair: a mere 28 involvement of the Royal Navy,” said Cllr Winter.
Contsworth Court, Gateshead,
was arrested by RN Police in
miles. The politician was the fi rst of many civilians to look
Plymouth just one day before the
The minehunter, which has recently returned from around the small vessel. In all, some 90,000 people
destroyer returned home from
a lengthy stint in Bahrain (just short of 8,000 miles attended the event, watching a host of activities on
her South Atlantic deployment.
from Faslane) left Clyde Naval Base following some the Clyde from Zapcat racers to jet skis, seaplanes,
The junior rating was
well-earned leave and turned left, not right, upon and pirate ship battles, with a sizeable proportion of
subsequently charged with
exiting the Rhu Narrows, making for the heart of visitors crossing Blyth’s gangway.
smuggling drugs after 12kg of
Glasgow. Among them one six-year-old Callum Hall from
cocaine was allegedly found in
Her destination was the Glasgow River Festival, a Motherwell, dressed in full Combat 95s plus his
Matos’ locker on the ship.
two-day, er, river festival in the shadow of the city’s grandfather’s green beret. The Halls were at the very
Matos appeared before
science centre at Pacifi c Quay (pictured right by front of the queue for Blyth as the festival opened.
magistrates in Plymouth and
LA(Phot) Gary Weatherston, FRPU North). “Callum and his brother are Royal Navy and Royal
was remanded in custody until
And just as a reminder of Blyth’s spell in the Gulf, Marines crazy,” said mum Lorna. “Whenever they’re
her next appearance in court on
organisers shipped in 50 tonnes of sand for the event out playing and I want them in for dinner, I know
September 15.
(although admittedly this was more for beach volleyball exactly where to fi nd them: in the woods playing at
Three men from the London
and beach football than to recreate the Middle East commando.”
area – all civilians – have also
for matelots missing a dusty environment…). Non-would-be Royals also quite enjoyed their look
been charged in connection with
The Sandown-class warship was charged with around the ship. “We had thousands of people on
the fi nd aboard Manchester. opening festivities. Glasgow’s fi rst citizen, Lord board to see the valuable work our men and women
They appeared before Provost Bob Winter, climbed aboard to raise the do,” said CO Lt Cdr Des Donworth. “It was a
Portsmouth magistrates and were festival fl ag, before being given a tour of Blyth. fantastic event to be part of and I know that the crew
also remanded in custody. “I am immensely glad that HMS Blyth could enjoyed themselves.”
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