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New power base for

HMS Chiddingfold will be

the fi rst of the Portsmouth and Bahrain-based mine countermeasures vessels to receive new engines, gearboxes, bow thruster systems, propellers and machinery control systems under a contract with BAE Systems.

Her seven sisters will be upgraded during planned ship docking periods over the coming fi ve years, avoiding disruption to their programmes. The new propulsion systems,

which replace a 30-year-old version, are designed to be reliable and easily supportable, using commercial off-the-shelf kit which will not only minimise costs but also ensure spares are readily and widely available. The new design takes up less space and is more accessible, providing better working conditions for Royal Navy engineers carrying out maintenance and repairs, often in diffi cult climatic conditions. The work is due to be carried out at BAE’s shipbuilding and overhaul facilities in Portsmouth, and suppliers have already been identifi ed. Under the contract, which makes BAE the single point of contact for all repair, maintenance and upgrades for the Hunts, Northrop Grumman Sperry Marine will provide the machinery control alarm and surveillance systems, Finning UK will supply engines, gearboxes and bow thrusters, and Stone Marine Propulsion will provide the propellers for the ships.

The stable d’or

AND if you look about 450 miles in that direction, you

can see the sea... Far from her natural

environment, Lt Hannah West shares her knowledge on the weapons range to women who’ve volunteered to serve in the Afghan National Police.

It is this advice – and that

imparted by five Senior Service comrades – which helped win a coveted humanitarian award. The Firmin Sword of Peace –

known as Wilkinson for 40 years until sword manufacturers Firmin & Son took over sponsorship – is presented each year to the Forces unit judged to have made the most valuable contribution to humanitarian activities at home or abroad.

In 2010, the tri-Service Military Stabilisation Support Group was deemed worthy of the title. The 40-strong group largely

comprises Army personnel, bolstered by half a dozen sailors and a similar number from the RAF.

Different stabilisation groups

deploy to Helmand with each roulement of British forces – in this award-winning instance Operation Herrick 10 (summer 2009).

Once in theatre, the groups are split into smaller teams with responsibilities across the province – helping reconstruction projects, working with locals, government officials, with the aim of making life better for ordinary Afghans. The six sailors – Lts West and Gary McCormack, Coxn John


Adam and CPOs Neil Smith, Wiggy

Cresswell – were scattered around Helmand: Lashkar Gah, Musa Qaleh,

Gereshk and Sangin. Nad-e-Ali, Bennett and Bernie Garmsir,

As the only female member of the Naval contingent serving with the group, Lt West – an air engineer by trade – was based in the provincial capital Lashkar Gah and was heavily involved in working with Helmand’s women. Under the Taleban the latter suffered terrible

they were stripped of almost all rights, education and dignity, and were barely allowed to appear in public.


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Taleban’s fall and progress is such that there is now a small, but growing, number of women serving with the Afghan police, there’s a government department overseeing women’s affairs, and regular shuras – meetings – are held to discuss female issues. Liberated from the Taleban yoke, Helmand’s women are no longer shy about voicing their opinions – “they gave the policeman a real grilling” at one shura, said Lt West now serving at Abbey Wood on the Chinook project team.

Nearly a decade after the

“Women are keen to get involved with the police and work with the provincial councils – especially in the urban areas. It’s rather more difficult in the rural parts.” The stabilisation group is

formed from full-time and reservist volunteers.

oppression –

communications, problem solving. If you go into a community, listen to them – take on board what they are saying. “Everyone in the stabilisation team pitched in, did a fantastic job on the ground. “There were submariners,

a marine engineer, a comms technician – a real cross-section. They built up some great relations with the local community. “One of the guys was heavily

involved with local radio, helping the government to get its message across.”

The sword was formally presented to representatives of the stabilisation support group at its HQ in Gibraltar Barracks, Camberley, by Lt Gen Barney White-Spunner, Field Army.

Commander of the work is about

“The job sounded interesting – and it proved to be so very much,” Lt West said. “A lot

● Cumberland’s CO Capt Steve Dainton leads Sheikh Saud bin Saqr al Qassimi on a tour of the frigate

Picture: LA(Phot) Jay Allen, FRPU East

Cumberland celebrates 200-year link

AS THE sun rose over the craggy Hajjar Mountains in the picturesque Emirate of Ras Al Khaimah, gunfi re erupted as a Royal Navy warship made her way into the quiet port… It sounds like something out of the age of Palmerston and gunboat diplomacy, but in fact it was a greeting to old friends of the British, and particularly of the Royal Navy.

The 21-gun salute was a mark of respect from the Type 22 frigate to the ruling family of the United Arib Emirate of Ras Al Khaimah – some fi fty miles along the coast from Dubai. Sheikh Saud bin Saqr al Qassimi was welcoming Cumberland on a formal visit, one of many made over the years to celebrate the special links between the Emirate and the British.

way, to the early 19th Century, when the Sheikh and the British, formerly rivals for power in the Indian Ocean, signed a treaty which hugely enhanced trade and prosperity for both. Nearly 200 years on, the special relationship was celebrated in a visit which ranged from the formal - an offi cial reception with the British Ambassador to the UAE and the Consul General – to the informal – a football match and a chance for 50 children from local schools to look over the ship.

The Fighting Sausage is the Gulf on Operation Telic duties, having taking over from HMS Somerset safeguarding Iraq’s oil platforms and providing wider security for shipping.

Christmas roughers

MOST submissions featured matelots having a jolly good time above (and occasionally below) the waves, pint (or beer can) in hand, often in fancy dress. But it’s this rather gut-churning image of a routine patrol on December 25 1917 – when there really wasn’t much to cheer about after three and a half years of war – which was named the winner of Wood’s 100’s Old Navy Rum ‘Christmas at Sea’ contest. The fi r

those who are obliged to spend Christmas away from their loved ones due to their commitments in the Armed Forces. Wood’s asked Chris Wild, leading historical image archive blogger at How To Be A Retronaut, to judge the images Navy News readers submitted.

m organised the competition to raise awareness of

He plumped for ‘Cambrian Christmas 1917’ – supplied by David Clarke from St. Albans – and showing the heavy weather the cruiser endured on the festive day 93 years ago. “We chose ‘Cambrian Christmas 1917’ because it so poignantly captivates how lonely it must have been for those fi ghting in the Great War, as well as their nearest and dearest over the festive period, who would have been out of contact with each other for months on end,” Chris explained. “We hope that this campaign will urge people to give some thought on the 25th December for those soldiers in faraway places.”


Mr Clarke has won £500 worth of Bosch Garden and Power The complete shortlist of entries can be seen at Chris’ website,

P2000 enjoys winter Thor

WEATHER-permitting there’ll be a Royal Navy presence in the northernmost town in the British Isles this month. HMS Archer is leaving the safe confines of Aberdeen Harbour to make the 500-mile round-trip to the Shetlands. It’s the first time in many years

that there’s been a formal visit by a warship to the remote Scottish archipelago. Archer, which serves Aberdeen’s universities, is taking ten students to the Shetland capital Lerwick. She’s making the pilgrimage to the islands to take part in the world-famous Up Helly Aa winter festival, which culminates in the burning of a ship (not the P2000 but a replica Viking longboat) after dark on the night of January 25-26.

ship’s company, this year’s spectacle – hailed as Europe’s largest fire festival – is due to be attended by Cdre Charles Stevenson, the Naval Regional Commander for Scotland and Northern Ireland.

Aside from Archer and her The link goes back a long Picture: Cpl Steve Wood RLC


ALL Hunt-class warships are to be fi tted with new engines and propulsion systems in a fi ve-year £15m overhaul programme.

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