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● Tower power... Tower Bridge is lit up at dusk – as seen from HMS Northumberland, her Merlin helicopter parked on the fl ight deck. The Devonport-based frigate was in the capital to promote the re-structuring
of the engineering, logistics and warfare branches and celebrate the RN’s role in clamping down on the slave trade 200 years ago Picture: LA(Phot) Chris Winter
Noble deeds Mersey’s
by Montrose mercy
THE crew of frigate HMS
Montrose saved the lives of 11
Turkish sailors found drifting
in life rafts in the middle of the
SAILORS from HMS Mersey
Said in
All her crew managed to
swap ship
tended to a wounded fi shermen
The merchantman MV
off Land’s End before their Fleet
Sunshine sank in barely ten
Air Arm comrades ferried him to
minutes after rolling 90˚ in heavy
seas as she ferried marble from
The River-class patrol ship
Trapani in Sicily to Port
was on fishery protection duties
around 100 miles west of Land’s
End when the Irish trawler Tit
scramble safely into life rafts and
Bonhomme radioed for help.
escape from the ship before the
A boarding team including two
Sunshine was devoured by the
ALL CHANGE, please, all change.
Both Pembroke’s and Penzance’s sailors based in Bahrain – USS Ardent, Scout and
trained first aiders, led by PO
They then spent nearly two
Four complete ship’s companies are trading
received the full work-up training package in Gladiator – plus Pakistani and French warships
Jason Carvil, climbed aboard the
days in the Mediterranean
places as the Fleet’s ‘Sea Swap’ initiative to
home waters; the crews of Blyth and Ramsey (the latter navy has two minehunter-sweepers
fishing vessel and found a sailor
with little food or water, until
keep vessels in theatre longer reaches Bahrain
took over their ships after three weeks’ well- in the Gulf at present) on exercises and
with severe head injuries.
Montrose came across them by
and the Aintree minehunting task force.
deserved leave. conducting route survey work to update charts
The Mersey team quickly
The crews of HMS Blyth and Ramsey
And in the Gulf, Pembroke’s sailors have of Gulf waters.
realised the injured man required
The Devonport-based Type have completed their six months taking their
stepped into the steaming bats of the men and Last stop before Blighty was the souk in
specialist treatment and called
23 warship is on NATO duties, respective vessels from Faslane to the Gulf and
women of HMS Ramsey, while Penzance’s Manama, Bahrain’s capital, where the sailors
in a Sea King from 771 NAS at
patrolling the Mediterranean with working with Allied navies in challenging mine
crew took over from Blyth’s team. picked up some fine presents for home –
Allied vessels until the summer.
“At first glance it might sound simple to swap notably jewellery – and other gizzits of rather
The first aid team looked
warfare conditions.
The warship launched her sea
crews around,” said Cdre Keith Winstanley, more dubious quality – stuffed camels, fake
after the trawlerman until the
The hulls themselves will remain in the
boat to pick up the Sunshine’s
UK Maritime Component Commander in Rolex watches and the obligatory mosque
helicopter arrived and lifted him
region until at least the end of next year, but
survivors and bring them back to
charge of joint maritime operations in the alarm clock.
to hospital on the mainland.
sailors of all eight Sandown-class ships are
Montrose, where the merchant
Gulf. As the two ships’ crews returned to the UK,
Mersey’s patrol took her to the
being rotated through Blyth and Ramsey to
captain explained in halting
“Moving every single officer and sailor off Commander-in-Chief Fleet Admiral Sir James
British Sea Fisheries Limits – and
give them the chance to operate in the Gulf.
English that his crew had run out
two combat-ready warships and replacing Burnell-Nugent said Blyth and Ramsey had
beyond, including the Bay of
First to trade places are Penzance and
of food and water the day after his
them with a completely fresh, but thoroughly- “set the bar high” during the first six months
Biscay where her teams boarded
Pembroke. Each swap requires 80 men and
ship sank.
trained and ready-for-action, crew takes quite of the trial.
two vessels 400 miles from the
“The crew of the Sunshine
women coming home... and 80 men and a bit of doing.” Other ships involved in the Sea Swap
UK and 120 miles from Spain.
went through a harrowing
women flying out to Bahrain, the forward base Before coming home, Blyth’s and Ramsey’s experiment are Edinburgh/Exeter, Sutherland marina Mersey on Merseyside, page
ordeal,” said Montrose’s CO Cdr
for the ships, to take over from them. sailors worked with three US minehunters and Monmouth. 27
Tony Watt.
“I’m just pleased my sailors
were able to carry out that most
basic of duties – saving the lives of
fellow mariners.”
The Sunshine’s crew received
Divers pick up the gauntlet
food, drink, and dry clothes
by Montrose before they were
transferred to the Turkish warship AFTER shivering in the Arctic, the clearance seabed data on its own, the team could search
TCG Gokceada to be taken to divers of Fleet Diving Unit 3 roasted in the Gulf far more of the sea than they could ever do
their native land. as they joined experts from around the world by hand.
The rescue came at the end blowing up mines. “Sea mines were not the only menace the
of a ten-day submarine hunt The US-led Exercise Arabian Gauntlet was team was up against,” explained Lt Cdr Simon
involving 14 boats and ships and billed as the largest mine countermeasures Pressdee, Officer in Charge FDU3.
four maritime patrol aircraft off exercise in the world with ships and personnel “On the first day a large shark was spotted
Sicilian shores. from the Gulf region and Indian Ocean environs prowling in the area and sea snakes made the
Exercise Noble Manta is scouring the sea for mines. occasional appearance as well.
billed as the world’s largest anti- The RAF flew the divers and their kit, “With 60 miles to the nearest land, diving
submarine war game and is run including REMUS – the new robot submersible here was not for the faint-hearted.”
by NATO. which scans the seabed for explosive devices The FDU3 team was not the sole British
Six submarines were prowling – to the Gulf to join American landing ship USS input to Arabian Gauntlet, as Bahrain-based
out there, provided by the Greek, Shreveport. HMS Blyth and Ramsey (see above) joined in
Dutch, Italian, Turkish and US Shreveport served as the floating base not the hunt, plus staff from the parent squadron,
navies. merely for the Horsea Island-based Brits, but MCM2.
Above the waves, Montrose also diving teams from Kuwait and the United As for the divers, Arabian Gauntlet proved to
was joined by ships from France, Arab Emirates. be extremely enjoyable and – most importantly
Germany, Greece, Turkey, the The divers were given an exercise minefield – useful.
USA and Spain in trying to find area to tackle the underwater devices, using a “The exercise has provided extremely
these silent hunters. mixture of hi-tech – REMUS – and slightly lower relevant environmental training for clearance
It proved to be a challenging tech – Jack – to find the mines. diving and REMUS operations in a hot climate
ten days for the British frigate. The Clearance Diver Breathing Apparatus – that’s something which is extremely difficult
Crew worked in defence watches used by the FDU3 team is specifically designed to recreate in the UK. We’re looking forward to
(six hours on, six hours off) not to alert mines to the presence of divers future training opportunities in this part of the
hunting those submarines, who thanks to its non-acoustic and non-magnetic world,” Lt Cdr Pressdee added.
loosed dummy torpedoes at components. The FDU3 divers are now back in Blighty
● Running the Gauntlet... PO(D) Hope and LD Jackson of Fleet Diving Unit
Montrose from time to time. As for REMUS, by sending it off to record preparing for further exercises overseas.
3 lead a Kuwaiti dive team out to the exercise minefi eld
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