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Ocean Royals save sailor

ROYAL Marines from HMS Ocean saved a fi sherman – and his boat – as they exercised off the US coast.

part in exercises with the USS Kearsarge battlegroup as the Auriga deployment reached its climax off North Carolina. The war games comprise strike

operations from HMS Ark Royal and an amphibious element courtesy of Albion, Ocean and RFA Largs Bay.

9 Assault Squadron were on patrol in one of the carrier’s landing craft when they spied a fisherman waving his arms frantically. “The boat was taking on a lot

The commandos from Ocean’s

● Thumbs up from Lt Luke Edwards, HMS Manchester’s Flight Pilot, and a cargo of £1.5m cannabis

of water which had damaged his electrics,” said Mne Chris Reid. “The boat wasn’t far from going under. We took the decision to tow him back to the marina. “The fisherman was really pleased that we were able to help him as he’d been stuck there for almost three hours.” ■ More from Auriga, pages 21-25

Dry summer for Daring

BRITAIN’S most advanced warship was sitting high on wooden blocks in Portsmouth Naval Base for several weeks as she underwent her first period in dry dock. Four years after HMS Daring

rushed down a slipway into the Clyde, the weather was rather warmer as Serco tugs helped Britain’s fi rst Type 45 destroyer into dry dock in Portsmouth for her fi rst docking period. Over the next six hours the

● At the end of a 1,500-mile odyssey HMS Raider sails past the unmistakeable outline of The Rock Picture: Sgt Steve Lancaster RAF, BFHQ Gibraltar

The long and the short of it

THEY say of holidays that the journey’s half the fun.

Or most of it in the case of Her Majesty’s Ships

Tracker and Raider. The two patrol boats headed to Gibraltar for the climax of their summer deployment. Nothing special in that; it’s a regular haunt for RN vessels. Except that the two boats - which serve the

dock was drained, while divers checked the position of the blocks on the dock bottom which would support the £1bn warship once the waters were gone. There was quite a bit of maintenance to carry out on Daring, inside and out, especially after her exertions off the South Coast this spring which saw her undertake Operational Sea Training for the fi rst time (she passed, you’ll be pleased to know).

Once the work was complete, the dock was fl ooded up and Daring took her place next to her sister Dauntless in Portsmouth Naval Base for this year’s Navy Days.

After summer leave, Daring’s due to head to exercise areas off the USA to test her ability to work with the US Navy.

All aboard Montrose

HMS Montrose was ‘toppers’ for a day as she took friends and family to sea... 280 of them. By our reckoning that brought the number of souls aboard the Devonport frigate to well over 450.

Citadel, she exchanged a ceremonial gun salute with the commando gunners of 29 Regiment RA – Montrose’s affiliated Army unit. Then it was on to the RN’s South Coast exercise areas to interact with other Senior Service vessels (the latter not having quite so much fun as they were being tested by the Flag Officer Sea Training) and watch fly pasts from Hawks and Falcons. The ship’s company gave comprehensive tours and talks, Service family organisations explained the support they can offer, and younger visitors were kept entertained by face painters – despite fairly rough weather. Montrose is at the end of a 12-month period of regeneration following a refit which will see her deploy imminently.

As the Type 23 passed the

The ship took them for a spin around Plymouth Sound and the approaches to the great Devon port.

universities of Oxford and Cambridge respectively – have a range of only 270 miles. The Rock is some 1,500 miles by the coastal route from Pompey. And that led to port-hopping. A lot of port- hopping, taking in St Helier, Concarneau, La Rochelle, Santander, Gijón, La Corunna, Vigo, Porto, Nazaré, Lisbon and Portimão among others. It took two weeks (and one crew change of students per boat) to get to the gateway to the Med. And there the two boats were shepherded into harbour by the Rock’s constant protectors, the RN’s Gibraltar Squadron. It’s the fi rst time since 1997 that URNU boats

have made the lengthy trip to Gibraltar (the last two were Biter and Charger, for the record). Tracker and Raider arrived in Gib just in time for

the offi cers’ mess summer ball. The following day there was “the full Gibraltar package” in the words of Tracker’s Commanding Offi cer Lt Conor O’Neill: an encounter with the apes on the top of the Rock and an obligatory trip to the Donkey’s Flip-Flop (aka The Horseshoe), which has added Raider and Tracker tallies to its already impressive collection. The boats were visited by the senior naval offi cer in Gibraltar, Cdre Adrian Bell, then, after just two nights at the Rock, it was time to complete the 3,000-mile round trip. “It’s a major planning challenge and a test of endurance for the students,” explained Lt O’Neill. “Getting down here safely is testament to the hard

work of our four-man permanent ship’s company. They have worked very hard to give the students the chance of a lifetime.” P2000s are not renowned for their seakeeping (they don’t go out in anything above a Sea State 4), so how blessed the Oxbridge duo were when they crossed a benign Biscay. “We’ve had a whale of a time on this trip but it has also been really good training – especially on the night passages,” said Kieran Tamayo, who’s reading history at Trinity College, Oxford. And from very long journeys for P2000s... to very

short ones (about 750 yards by our reckoning). Aberdeen’s university boat HMS Archer took part in 70th anniversary commemorations of General de Gaulle’s appeal to fellow Frenchmen to continue the struggle against the Nazis. Flying the Efficiency Award flag – for the most efficient P2000 in the Fleet – and the standard of First Sea Lord Admiral Sir Mark Stanhope, the URNU boat carried Britain’s most senior sailor and his French counterpart Amiral Pierre Forissier from HMS President, London’s RNR unit, to HMS Belfast on the other side of Tower Bridge. Despite the small size of a P2000, they can only pass beneath the capital’s landmark crossing at low tide without the need for the bascules to be raised. And it wasn’t low tide when Archer made her

short journey (pictured below by PO(Phot) Amanda Reynolds leaving HMS President). “With so many high-profi le French dignitaries and veterans coming over for ceremonies, this was a really nice fi nishing touch to proceedings,” said Archer’s Commanding Offi cer Lt Michael Hutchinson. His ship was in London on the opening stages of her summer deployment around the South Coast, Channel Islands, Normandy and Brittany. ■ We’ll have a feature on the URNUs in next month’s edition

Pot luck for Manchester

DRUGS worth an estimated £1.5m won’t see these shores courtesy of the men and women of HMS Manchester who intercepted a shipment in the Caribbean.

NAS Lynx after it spotted a speedboat racing through the water off the island of Montserrat. The helicopter had been fl ying the Type 42’s CO Cdr Rex Cox ashore to meet island offi cials on the latest stage of Manchester’s deployment.

As they headed for Montserrat, the Lynx crew noticed the speedboat; aside from its two main engines, it carried two spare engines – classic drug- running tactics.

While Royal Montserrat Police intercepted the go-fast, the Lynx scoured the area and soon came across a dozen 25kg bales of cannabis on a beach. They were promptly handed over to local police, who also arrested the speedboat’s fi ve crew; the latter, all from St Vincent and the Grenadines, were subsequently charged with drug traffi cking offences.

A dozen bales of cannabis were seized by the destroyer’s 815

Manchester had been visiting the British overseas territory to discuss disaster relief plans with civic leaders and emergency services. Aside from the perennial threat of hurricanes, islanders live under constant fear thanks to the rarely inactive Soufrière Hills volcano.

The assault ship was taking

Eruptions in the mid-90s prompted the evacuation of much of the island, including the capital Plymouth, and a major aid effort by the UK.

Among those who helped back then were Manchester’s CPO Craig Sullivan, serving with the Busy Bee’s older sister HMS Southampton at the time. In July 1995, the then 22-year-old AB(Missileman) and shipmates provided vital relief to the people of Montserrat. Southampton’s sailors worked around the clock to erect

marquees, providing makeshift accommodation for islanders. The Type 42 subsequently helped to evacuate inhabitants to Antigua. Many have never returned – as the now senior rate discovered. “There’ve been efforts to rebuild parts of the island but because of what happened, a lot of what used to be there just isn’t anymore.

“The island is a completely different world to how it used to be. There are people living in very difficult conditions and it is really sad to see.” The chief petty officer continued: “In all honesty, I have had a

mixture of emotions since coming back here. “I remember the desperation on the faces of some of the people that were living on the island. “I don’t think they understood why we were helping but they

were pleased we were there.” The senior rate’s current ship has spent the summer of 2010 island hopping around the Caribbean, spreading the word on how the RN – and Manchester herself in particular – can offer support and aid to communities should a hurricane strike. To that end, apart from Montserrat, the destroyer has visited Anguilla and Martinique (which knows a thing or two itself about terrible volcanic eruptions).

A century on, volcano Mont Pelée is largely at peace, so the Mancunians focused their efforts on discussions about counter- narcotics work with security forces in the French dependency. The destroyer’s 1st XI football team notched up a comfortable victory against a local team, but not so the rugby side which went down narrowly.

International rescue in Guzz

LAST year it was pirates. This year communications and disaster relief were on the agenda as warships from France, Russia, UK and US gathered in Devonport. The annual FRUKUS exercise (the acronym comes from the participating nations) traces its history back to the dying days of the Cold War and attempts to foster closer understanding among the respective navies, with participants taking it in turns to host the gathering.

Whitney, Russian destroyer RFS Severomorsk, and France’s FS Primauguet, an anti-submarine frigate.

They spent a week working together, culminating in a disaster exercise at the Royal Navy’s spe- cialist training site at Bull Point. “The specific objectives this

In 2010 it fell to the RN – and the staff of FOST – to host the exercises with HMS Kent flying the flag for Britain alongside command ship USS Mount

year focused on operating together as a task group and the sharing of information – not easy given the different methods, language, culture and equipment which the nations use,” explained Flag Officer Sea Training, Rear Admiral Chris Snow.

Pond in 2011. FRUKUS heads across the

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