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HMS Walney Maj Griff Griffi ths HMS Liverpool

Auriga Task Group

HMS Sabre/Scimitar HMS Kent

40 Cdo/845 NAS/846 NAS/ 854 NAS/FDG/MASU


HMS Northumberland HMS Lancaster

1 AGRM RFA Black Rover HMS Chatham

HMS Richmond HMS Astute




HMS Portland HMS York HMS Clyde RFA Wave Ruler

HMS Sceptre

HMS Talent HMS St Albans HMS Enterprise HMS Atherstone HMS Chiddingfold HMS Middleton HMS Pembroke HMS Grimsby RFA Bayleaf RFA Lyme Bay RFA Cardigan Bay

Plus one ballistic missile submarine on patrol somewhere beneath the Seven Seas

Fleet Focus The wurst of times for Walney

IT’S been a bad month for pirates.

And that’s because it’s been a good month for the Royal

Navy’s pirate-busters. HMS Lancaster made history by entering Somali waters to

WE HOPE they like sausage and sauerkraut aboard HMS Walney.

seek out pirate camps and destroy ‘action groups’ – collections of skiffs – used to attack shipping in the Gulf of Aden. Which she did with fiery results (see page 6)... ...while HMS Chatham pounced on a separate action group and dispatched it to Davy Jones’ Locker... with an equally fiery funeral (see page 16).

the region by sampling the delights of Oman (see page 8). Not too far away inside the Gulf, HMS Atherstone is about

the pressure on the marauders (and other ne’er-do-wells) east of Suez is her sister HMS Northumberland. The frigate joined survey ship HMS Enterprise for war games with the Omanis, French and Americans (see page 9). Submarine HMS Talent is taking a break from operations in

Lancaster should be just about home right now, but keeping

waters (never let it be said we fall prey to national stereotyping – Ed).

Because much of 2010 has been spent in German ports – or German

to return home after more than two years based in Bahrain. She’s replaced by her sister HMS Middleton who, with HMS Chiddingfold, will form the Hunt-class arm of the RN’s mine warfare force in the region (see page 5). A little further north and HMS St Albans continues to safeguard

Iraq’s two oil platforms (see page 11). The other Senior Service Schwerpunkt presently is Afghanistan

where 40 Commando RM have smashed a Taleban bomb factory (see page 5). The efforts of the Royals and other Allied troops in Helmand is supported by the surveillance Sea Kings of 854 NAS. We present a unique insight into a year in the life of one helicopter

(see page 13).

Sceptre enjoyed the hospitality of Simon’s Town in South Africa (see page 6) as her final deployment drew to a close. Across the Atlantic, HMS Portland and York have traded places in the Falklands (see page 4). Another vessel which has left the remote islands behind

Half a world away, the Royal Marines of 1 AGRM have returned to Nigeria to train waterborne security forces for the second time in six months (see page 17). On the other side of the equator, veteran submarine HMS

The ship is Britain’s input to NATO’s Standing Mine Counter- measures Group 1 – as of last month, Polish flagship ORP Kontradmirał Xawery Czernicki, Belgium’s BNS Aster, the Dutch HMNLS Middelburg and Germany’s FGS Passau. The size and manoeuvrability of Walney – and the rest of the minehunting force – permits them to visit ports typically off limit to larger warships: Eckernförde (just north of Kiel), Warnemünde (near Rostock), Sassnitz (on the German island of Rügen) and finally Aalborg in Denmark (a good dozen miles inland...). Walney’s Germanic Reise (trip) began in Warnemünde and a little maintenance before rejoining the force in the Baltic... right in the middle of an air defence exercise. Two German Tornados provided the threat, while two German fast patrol craft bolstered the defenders courtesy of their air search radars. After that what better way to unwind than a barbecue? In March. In





the Baltic. The minehunters rafted up to their Polish flagship (a sort of RFA-cum-troop carrier) and tucked into burgers and the like on the flight deck. With typical Royal Navy understatement, the weather was described as “a little chilly”.

deployments. Every day, there’s a merry-go-round of sailors as they’re transferred among the force to experience life on a different nation’s warship for 24 hours. Suitably satiated, the ships headed for the idyllic east German port of Sassnitz (not far from the German-Polish border... or the birthplace of modern rocketry, Peenemünde). It’s been half a century since one of Her Majesty’s warships visited Sassnitz – not entirely surprising as it was a base for the East German and Soviet navies during the Cold War – although there is one British vessel permanently in the small harbour; submarine HMS Otus sits in the water here as a museum piece. Otus is open to visitors daily. Not so Walney, so 1,400 Sassnitzers

is HMS Scott, which has completed her inaugural survey of Antarctic waters and returned to Devonport (see page 4). As for Portland, she got in a bit of gunnery practice mid-ocean on her way to the Falklands (see pages 24-25). Back home, HMS Richmond chaperoned HMS Astute on the £1bn submarine’s first deep dive off the west coast of Scotland

(see page 7).

HMS Iron Duke pummelled the Cape Wrath ranges by night, then called in on her affiliated city of Hull (see page 9)... ...And HMS Cornwall paid her first visit to Falmouth in a couple of years (see page 8). HMS Gloucester paid her respects to the previous Fighting G with sailors attending a service of commemoration on Plymouth Hoe (see page 10). The boats of the University Royal Naval Unit scattered

RN’s two display Lynx – better known as the Black Cats – who’ll be performing at 20 airshows in 2010 (see page 10). And finally, we have an exclusive photograph of Donny Osmond on water skis, tearing past Helensburgh at 35mph to

promote this year’s Armed Forces Day. All will be revealed on page 10.

across the UK and north-west Europe for the first of their two deployments of 2010 (see pages 14-15). Also scattered across the UK for most of the summer are the

The barbecue is typical of the spirit fostered on these NATO

(out of a total populace of under 11,000) took the opportunity to tour the Sandown-class vessel during her weekend stay, while the ship’s company relaxed in the small resort when they weren’t serving as guides. For the next stage of the deployment, joining Exercise Brilliant

mak stag



Mariner – regular war games run by NATO – the mine force had to make for Wilhelmshaven where pre-exercise briefings were being staged. That meant an eight-hour passage of the Kiel Canal – the world’s busiest artificial waterway. After those talks in Wilhelmshaven and some fresh provisions, it was back through the canal to the Baltic, the second passage in 72 hours. After bespoke mine warfare briefings in the small port of

power-hungry Stellaria (ditto). Eleven nations took part in the NATO-run exercise, committing 33 ships, four submarines and 40 aircraft... although the latter were grounded for the later stages of Brilliant Mariner courtesy of the Icelandic volcanic ash cloud. A bit of ash can’t stop a Sandown, however. Walney headed into the

Eckernförde (home of the German submarine fleet) it was time for the exercise to begin in earnest. War games in Blighty typically involve Brownia and Mustardia (or sometimes Dragonia and Caledonia). As is their wont, the Europeans do things a little differently. In Brilliant Mariner, Ger’mark (a contraction of Germany and Denmark) and Tytan (which, er, isn’t) are threatened by the


Great Belt to clear mines (all were found, you’ll be pleased to know), then made for the northern Kattegat, where a real mine was found. After weather hindered initial efforts to deal with the weapon, it cleared sufficiently for AB(D) ‘Sticky’ Cunningham to plunge into the depths, fix a charge, then watch as a huge plume of water rose above the Kattegat as the mine and charge detonated. That was almost the last act of Brilliant Mariner... but not quite. The

Stellarians, none-too-chuffed that all their nefarious plans had been scuppered, laid one last minefield for Walney to deal with, then threw fast patrol craft at the minehunter. And thus did the curtain fall on Brilliant Mariner. The battle won, Walney headed for Aalborg and some well-deserved R&R.

● HMS Walney (far right) rafted up alongside the rest of the NATO force with the Polish fl agship Kontradmirał Xawery Czernicki (centre)

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