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HMS Ark Royal HMS Edinburgh F35C HMS Sabre/Scimitar HMS Manchester RFA Wave Ruler HMS Portland

HMS Cornwall HMS Montrose RFA Fort Victoria 820 NAS FPGRM



HMS Campbeltown CHF


HMS Clyde RFA Black Rover

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

HMS Tireless HMS Cumberland HMS Enterprise HMS Chiddingfold HMS Middleton HMS Pembroke HMS Grimsby RFA Bayleaf RFA Diligence RFA Lyme Bay RFA Cardigan Bay

HMS Cumberland

845 NAS/846 NAS/854 NAS/ FDG/1710 NAS


Fleet Focus

Security Review. The most high-profile victim of that review, HMS Ark Royal, paid her final visit to Portsmouth following a farewell tour of the UK and north-west Europe (see our eight-page supplement); her 800 NAS Harriers had already departed on a farewell tour of their own which saw them make a final appearance at RNAS Yeovilton (see page 11).

A NEW year dawns on a Royal Navy considerably smaller than 12 months ago – and one still perhaps rather shell- shocked by the ramifi cations of the Strategic Defence and

ships returning to port for Christmas. HMS Somerset and Northumberland completed lengthy tours of duty east of Suez (Gulf for Somerset, Horn of Africa for her sister – see right and page 5 respectively) and HMS Portland finished her South Atlantic-Pacific-Caribbean-African deployment with a visit to Ghana (see page 14). The curtain came down on HMS Manchester’s operational

As is customary at the year’s end there was a flurry of

career when she returned to Portsmouth from the Caribbean. Among her last official duties, the first visit to Cuba by a British warship since 1957 (see page 21). The Busy Bee’s younger sister HMS Gloucester is also on her final deployment. So what better way to go out than with some ‘gunnery funnery’ in the Falklands (see page 13). The youngest Type 42 in service, HMS Edinburgh, is working her way back to front-line effectiveness after a refit, visiting Den Helder in the Netherlands as part of her work-up (see page 8). HMS Montrose delivered a parting shot to pirates by blasting a boat out of the water before making for home (see page 5) while the RN-RM-FAA-RFA team aboard RFA Fort Victoria offer us an insight into an anti-piracy deployment (see pages 24-25). The atrocious weather conditions last month meant call outs for the Search and Rescuers of HMS Gannet (not entirely unexpected... see page 4) and HMS Illustrious; the carrier’s ship’s company were drafted in on the streets of Edinburgh to clear snow (see page 5). Commando Helicopter Force was also caught up in the cold snap as it staged one of its largest exercises in years on Salisbury Plain (see page 7). HMS Scott’s in search of snow as she makes her second visit to Antarctica understudying for HMS Endurance which is still out of action (see page 5). In Bahrain, survey ship HMS Enterprise hosted Defence

Secretary Liam Fox, who visited fresh from delivering an important speech on the future of the RN at HMS Collingwood (see page 4).

shoreline around Plymouth to hone their skills with 1 Assault Group RM (see page 6). HMS Dragon has completed her first spell of sea trials, bringing the curtain down on an important year in the Type 45 destroyer programme (see page 9). And finally, with the demise of the Harrier there’s not been much to cheer WAFUs recently. But seven sailors have been offered a glimpse of the future, working with the jump jet’s successor, the Joint Strike Fighter. The first naval carrier variant has been delivered to the US Navy at its world-famous Pax River airbase (see page 10).

Cunard’s newest liner in the Channel (see pages 6 and 29). Rookie landing craft crew have been used the waters and

where townsfolk turned out in force to honour the sacrifices made by 40 Commando during its recent tour-of-duty in Afghanistan (see page 15). In home waters, HMS Campbeltown bumped into (not literally)

Dr Fox was also present at a homecoming parade in Taunton

Picture: LA(Phot) James Crawford, FRPU West A ‘highly positive’ deployment TALK about a rude

awakening. One minute you’ve got your shades on, lapping up temperatures of 25˚C-plus. The next it’s snowing, there’s an Arctic wind and the temperature’s struggling to stay positive. Still, home is home. After six months away in the

Gulf, HMS Somerset returned to Devonport – and a suitably festive welcome from loved ones, friends and affi liates. Indeed, the frigate really pushed

the boat out for the people who’ve supported them. Not only was there a Royal Marines Band on the jetty and a P2000 escort (HMS Raider) up the Hamoaze, not only did the affi liated Sea Cadet unit

(Weston-Super-Mare) turn up in force to provide a band and guard, but St Nicholas himself was on the quayside (actually in a marquee, decorated with Christmas tree and all the trimmings) handing out gifts to youngsters. All the fun and frivolity is a

far cry from 122 days on station in the Gulf – a challenging task in a challenging economic, political,

military and climatic

environment. Nearly eight years after the war ended and 18 months since the bulk of British military personnel were pulled out of Iraq, Operation Telic remains a standing commitment for the Royal Navy – although that role has transformed considerably since 2003.

The key mission remains to protect Iraq’s lifeblood, her oil

exports, but the growing effi cacy of the Iraqi Navy and Marines means that they’ve assumed responsibility for safeguarding the older Khawr Al Amaya terminal, leaving the RN to patrol the newer Al Basrah platform a few miles away. Well,

Around three million barrels every day. To

ensure it did so, the

Type 23’s Navy/Royal Marines boarding team visited 250 boats in the region, partly as reassurance, partly to check whether there was anything untoward going on. The response from mariners to Somerset’s presence was, says the frigate’s CO Cdr Andrew Burns, “highly positive”. His ship has also worked closely

with the region’s Armed Forces, not least those from Bahrain, Qatar, Kuwait, Saudi Arabia, the UAE and, upon exiting the Gulf to begin the 7,000-mile journey home, Oman.

allowed it’s still pumping out.

The visit to the latter some

R&R, also notably

diving and exploring the wadis and mountains. There was more downtime in Valletta and the fi nal port of call, Barcelona, before the fi nal 2,000-mile leg of the passage home. For Somerset’s ship’s company

it’s back to work this month after extended Christmas leave; once maintenance has been completed following the frigate’s Gulf exertions the frigate will conduct extensive training before deploying once more.

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