6 NAVY NEWS, JUNE 2007
Ahead of the curve
AFTER 12 months out of
action, HMS Somerset put to After ‘Cornwallgate’ there have
sea again on the fi rst stage of her been rather fewer Senior Service
regeneration. stories for Fleet Street to get its
The Devonport-based frigate teeth into this past month...
has spent the past year (61 weeks
to be precise) in Rosyth receiving
a major overhaul. SENIOR offi cers on HMS
Barely a month after filing Illustrious say two new
back aboard, Somerset’s new super-carriers are vital to
crew (with a new CO, Cdr Rob the defence of this country.
Wilson) fired up the engines and Cdre Alan Richards,
slipped slowly out of the former in charge of the carrier
naval base and into the Forth. strike group, and Capt Tim
With perfect timing, the frigate Fraser, commanding officer
sailed under the rail bridge as a of Illustrious, have spoken
train passed overhead... which out in favour of the £4bn
means Somerset’s navigator must ships being built as soon as
buy a drink for all 180 sailors possible.
when there’s next a run ashore. “People believe in them.
Somerset came to a halt in the We are all agreed we need
Forth off Hound Point, opposite them. I hope it will come
Edinburgh, while her compasses to fruition and I hope the
were tested and spent the night decision will be made,” said
at anchor riding the waters in Capt Fraser.
the middle of the estuary, her – Portsmouth News
first day at sea in over a year
The refit in Rosyth makes
Somerset the nation’s foremost
THREE RN Merlin
helicopters have been
Her new CO praised his crew:
shore-based in Oman for
“It has been hard work at every
nine months to provide
level in this ship to emerge from
maritime patrol coverage
refit as smoothly as we have done.
of the Strait of Hormuz and
I am immensely proud of my FRIGATE HMS Richmond – seen here been a constant Senior Service mission offi cer Cdr Piers Hurrell.
Horn of Africa.
team, in particular the engineers.” cheered on by friends and family as she since the fall of Saddam Hussein: protection Richmond’s refit by FSL provided the
The deployment of
Experts fitted new sonar, passes Round Tower – is Gulf-bound on her of Iraq’s offshore oil platforms and the frigate with the world’s most advanced
helicopters and almost
adapted the flight deck to fi rst deployment since a major refi t in her provision of security for sailors and fishermen anti-submarine sonar, 2087, as well as an
50 personnel from 814
accommodate a Merlin home town of Portsmouth. in these waters. improved torpedo defence suite, and a
NAS allowed two RAF
helicopter, revamped the The Duke-class warship will be away from “As a fi ghting unit we are highly trained revamped flight deck which means she is
Nimrods based near
navigation system to include the Solent until Christmas as she heads out and the ship is extremely well placed to carrying a Merlin helicopter for the first time
Muscat to concentrate
the WECDIS electronic chart to the northern Arabian Gulf. contribute to the UK’s effort in bringing on this deployment.
on over-land missions in
computers, and improved living There she will continue work which has stability to the region,” said her Commanding Picture: LA(Phot) Pete Smith, FRPU Whale Island
support of NATO troops in
quarters during Somerset’s time
in dry dock.
The Merlins use their
Another famous name
surface surveillance radar
emerging from a lengthy overhaul
is aviation training and casualty
treatment ship RFA Argus.
Argus has spent 233 days in
the hands of A&P in Falmouth,
the ship’s home port, where Norse force
to help build the coalition’s
maritime picture in the key
– Jane’s Defence Weekly
engineers have revamped her
TORNADO jets were sent
aviation and communications
MORE than 3,000 sailors
Fleet Auxiliary’s commitment the movements and operations of to do so in four years) for fuel to intercept two Russian
systems, upgraded her 100-bed
and Royal Marines could
to the exercises included two more than 40 warships, maritime and stores, before wending her aircraft spotted observing a
hospital and replaced her diesel
be found in the Skagerrak,
carriers – Illustrious and Ark patrol aircraft and carrier strike way past the Scottish highlands Royal Navy exercise.
Royal – amphibious assault ship groups. where her only witnesses were the The jets were scrambled
As part of the refit deal, A&P
Kattegat and Baltic as HMS Albion, destroyer HMS The naval slice of the NATO pie wildlife. after the foreign planes
will continue to support Argus
Navy News went to press
Manchester, RFA support vessels was due to reach its end with an Having negotiated the northern were detected by radar in
through the remainder of her life,
on one of the largest
Fort George and Fort Rosalie and amphibious assault on the island tip of the land, Ark headed across the skies over the Outer
which runs until 2020, by which
international war games
new landing ship auxiliaries Largs of Bornholm in the Baltic. the North Sea and up the Kattegat Hebrides.
time she will have served the
Bay and Mounts Bay, plus the Standing in the way of the into Gothenburg, where Admiral They were identifi ed
RFA for nearly four decades.
staged this century. punch of Royal Marines of 40 Allied naval forces was a combined Morisetti and his staff clambered as Russian Tu-142 Bears,
The NATO-run triptych of Commando. Polish-Norwegian-Swedish- aboard to prepare for the NATO commonly seen by pilots
Noble Mariner (the maritime bit), The war games were intended Finnish task group possessing a exercises. during the Cold War.
Noble Award (the aerial bit) and to test NATO’s Response Force, mix of frigates, fast patrol craft, There were other exercises, The Russian aircraft
Kindred Sword (the landward bit) the maritime arm of which will minehunters and naval infantry. too, in the Swedish port; the visit were escorted from the
involved ships, aircraft and troops be led by HMS Ark Royal later Many of the British components to Gothenburg coincided with area by the RAF who said
from 17 Allied nations, spread this year. of Noble Mariner sailed for the the city’s half marathon (which no radio contact took place
out across around 100,000 square
VENERABLE destroyer HMS
For Noble Mariner, the RN’s Baltic/Skagerrak directly after attracts nearly 40,000 runners between the pilots.
miles of land, sea and air from
Southampton is in the early
senior seaborne officer, UK taking part in Exercise Neptune each year) and several of Ark’s – BBC News
Esbjerg in Denmark to Gdynia
stages of a lengthy South Atlantic
Maritime Force Commander Rear Warrior (see centre pages). crew decided to take part.
deployment where she’ll take over
Admiral Neil Morisetti, and his Ark Royal paid a lightning See next month’s Navy News marina
The Royal Navy’s and Royal
from her sister.
battle staff joined Ark to direct visit to Faslane (the first carrier for a feature on Noble Mariner
Meanwhile, The Sun raved about
new hunter-killer submarine
HMS Astute. Their reporter
Portsmouth towards the end
enjoyed an exclusive tour of the
of April for eight months away
boat – exclusive, that is, if you
from home in support of British
don’t count the Beeb’s tour of
interests in South America and
Astute... or frequent visits by
the Falkland Islands.
There she will take over from
the slightly younger Type 42,
HMS Edinburgh, which has MEAN, menacing and
spent much of this year in and devastating, HMS Astute is
around the Falklands. the fi rst of the Navy’s 21st
Her journey south has taken Century super subs – and
her first to the Cape Verde The Sun has been on an
Islands, then to the waters off exclusive tour.
Suriname where she met RFA With a design more
Wave Ruler for a replenishment complex than the Space
at sea. Shuttle, HMS Astute’s
Before heading out into the awesome abilities will take
Atlantic the destroyer hosted underwater warfare to a
naval author Julian Stockwin new level.
– the man behind the Kydd series Incredibly, the £1.2bn,
of novels – and his wife Kathy 7,675-ton beast could
for passage from Plymouth to stay submerged for an
Portsmouth. astonishing 25 years
Mr Stockwin chatted to sailors without running out of fuel
about the life and deeds of their thanks to power coming
Nelsonian forebears – the heroes from a nuclear reactor.
of his novels – and pointed to The only performance
many of the similarities between limitation is the 98-man
the RN of 1805 and 2007, crew because the stores
such as the divisional system will run out of food after
and watchkeeping, as well as a three months — long
few of the landmarks around enough for one-and-a-half
Portsmouth used as navigational trips around the world.
aids. As Britain’s fi rst stealth
At the end of his visit, the sub, Astute gives off
author presented Southampton’s less noise than a baby
CO, Cdr Richard Morris, with dolphin thanks to her
a section of rope from the 18th- extraordinary amount of
Century HMS Invincible which sound proofi ng — despite
was lost in the eastern Solent in weighing as much as 975
1758. double-decker buses.
Southampton is due home in – The Sun
December. ● HMS Ark Royal visits Faslane before heading to the Noble Mariner exercise in the Baltic Picture: WO1 Ian Arthur
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