2 NAVY NEWS, JANUARY 2010
Vikings/845 NAS/846 NAS/
HMS Iron Duke
RFA Lyme Bay
RFA Cardigan Bay
RFA Gold Rover
Plus one ballistic missile submarine on patrol somewhere beneath the Seven Seas
FFleet Focusleet Focus Exorcising the ghosts
WELCOME to the Tens (or is it the Ones?). Anyway, the
THIS spectral apparition emerging
any ghosts that may or may not have been were also carrying out maritime security
weak winter sun rises on the new decade with the focus
from the Devonian mist is HMS
lingering.” patrols – not a problem for the British
rather as it was as the millennium began: the Gulf.
With an agreement once more reached between London and
Cornwall, home after seven months
But the deployment was not about ship, which followed the normal courtesies
restoring a ship’s pride and reputation – and radio contacts with their Iranian
Baghdad, RN operations have resumed in earnest in the Gulf.
on counter-piracy patrol. there was serious work to be done. counterparts.
It was the waters of Kuwait, not Iraq, which saw the most
The Type 22 deployed east of Suez in the “One beacon that stands out is the fact The effectiveness of the international
concerted effort by British vessels.
spring for the fi rst time since the notorious that we didn’t miss one day on task,” said anti-piracy effort in the area can be inferred
The Black Duke – HMS Monmouth – led RN/RFA participation
incident when her boarding party was Cdr Ley. from the fact that not a single merchant
in ‘Thank-you Kuwait’, a display of military force in gratitude
seized by Iranians in the northern Gulf. “For an old ship that is very good. vessel was taken by pirates in the Gulf of
for the support the Gulf state has given the Allied nations for
This time her focus was on pirates in the We were able to provide services to the Aden over the four-month period the frigate
the past two decades. The frigate was joined by Atherstone,
waters off East Africa, and her Commanding embarked NATO staff every single day was on station there – the corresponding
Chiddingfold and RFA Lyme Bay (see pages 24-25).
Offi cer, Cdr Johnny Ley, is delighted with whilst all around us there were newer ships period in 2008 saw 16 ships hijacked in the
Not content with that, the ‘Crazy A’ has been hard at work with
her showing. from all nations going off task with various same area.
the Americans on a mine-warfare exercise (see page 9).
“The deployment went bloody well, but it problems. As the ship headed back through the
One thousand miles to the south, HMS Lancaster has taken
was damned hard work,” said Cdr Ley. “We were there and we stuck at it. It’s Mediterranean on her way home, the
up station on counter-piracy patrol (see page 5).
“The boys and girls have risen to the demonstrable of the fi ghting spirit we have various departments tackled outstanding
As befits the last month of the year, a host of ships returned
challenge, every one of the 226 days we worked quite hard to foster.” paperwork and reports, totting up fi gures
home: HMS Quorn finished blowing up mines on both sides of
have been away.” That work was done in an international along the way.
the Atlantic and sailed back into Portsmouth (see page 5), as did
One objective was to move on from the context – not just the NATO group SNMG2, The Type 22 frigate, away for 226 days
HMS Kent which spent six months in the Gulf (see page 4).
shadow of the boarding party incident in of which Cornwall acted as fl agship for (nearly eight months in old money), spent
Type 22s Cumberland (see page 4) and Cornwall (see right)
the Northern Gulf two and a half years ago. group commander Cdre Steve Chick, but 80 per cent of her time on deployment at
have both ended their stints east of Suez and returned to
“I think for the sailors it wasn’t an issue. alongside many other nations who are sea, steaming more than 43,000 nautical
Devonport, the Mighty Sausage in wind and rain, the Fighting 99
For some senior rates, offi cers and myself patrolling these dangerous waters. miles at an average of 240 miles on each
in the fog.
it was there,” said Cdr Ley. “We have probably dealt with 20 different of those days.
And HMS Iron Duke’s record-breaking tour-of-duty in the
“We would be naïve to think if there nations in our time out here,” said Cdr Ley. She refuelled at sea more than 20 times,
Caribbean (featuring that drugs bust) is also done. Busy to the
had been an incident it wouldn’t have “It has done a huge amount for fl ew over 150 helicopter sorties (a total of
very end, the frigate protected the Queen, then helped to save
been blown up by the media because it’s international maritime co-operation – much 214 hours airborne, which tots up to almost
the life of a stricken mariner (see page 6).
Cornwall. more than any passex or port visit would nine days), fi red almost 250 4.5in rounds
Mine clearance divers past and present gathered aboard
“East of Suez it was ‘HMS Cornwall – do. and 28,000 7.62mm rounds.
HMS Belfast in London to celebrate the achievements of John
there’s baggage and recent history’, so “We have had regular exchanges of At one stage the ship spent 30 consecutive
Ouvry, the first man to defuse a German magnetic mine 70 years
everything we did was with that in mind. information with the Chinese, Russians days at sea – the reward for that was a brief
ago (see page 13).
“Now we have been there and done that, and so on in counter-piracy, breaking new stand-down in the Seychelles.
Seven decades later, his legacy is maintained by a small band
all those ties have been cut and the ship ground.” Cdre Chick left the ship at Crete, fl ying to
of brothers; we focus on the exploits of the Northern Diving
can move forward. Among the nations present is Iran, and Naples for a briefi ng – he will return east of
Group (see pages 10-11).
“When we popped out into the Cornwall found herself in Salalah at the Suez with HMS Chatham this year.
The NDG team can often be found working alongside Faslane’s
Mediterranean it’s like we had exorcised same time as Iranian Navy forces which Picture: LA(Phot) Martin Carney, FRPU West
Sandown-class mine countermeasures vessels, among them
HMS Penzance (see page 22).
There’s been a string of awards for naval aviators: 854 NAS,
Naval Strike Wing and MASU for Afghanistan (see pages 6 and
8), 815 NAS for its work with HMS Portland (see page 8).
Back to dry land and the School of Flight Deck Operations
at RNAS Culdrose whose work comes under the spotlight (see
The school already has one eye on revamping the dummy deck
to accommodate the (massive) flight decks of HM Ships Queen
Elizabeth and Prince of Wales. A lot of studies into the future
vessels’ flight operations are also under way on Portsdown Hill
(see page 23).
Talking of shiny new playthings, there are now two Sputniks
(or spinning eggs if you prefer) in Portsmouth courtesy of the
inaugural arrival of HMS Dauntless with her distinctive main
mast silhouette (see page 5).
And then there’s Dauntless’ nemesis, HMS Astute, which is
now settling in at Faslane. We take a look at life aboard the £1bn
boat (see pages 20-21).
As Astute entered stage left, HMS Trafalgar took her curtain
call; the veteran boat was formally decommissioned in Devonport
And finally... Hats off to the men and women of HMS Gannet
who, thanks to the British weather and an invention known as
the mobile phone, smashed through the 400-rescue barrier in
2009 – a feat unsurpassed by any UK Search and Rescue unit
(see page 4).
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