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Ledbury reels A Forth
in a trophy
‘‘No betterNo better symbol’symbol’
for good
JUST when you thought you’d
TWO front-line ships have left
escaped fi sh... you’re reminded of
THE highest honour a force can receive has
the Firth of Forth behind after
them all over again.
been bestowed upon the mainstay of the Fleet
multi-million pound upgrades.
All our Hunt-class minehunters
for the fi rst time.
HMS St Albans spent 15
are now doing what they should
One in four men and women in the Royal
months in Rosyth in the hands
be (the clue’s in the title...).
Fleet Auxiliary mustered aboard RFA Largs Bay
of Babcock, who in turn spent
But for years they have been
in Portsmouth Naval Base as their force received
£15m upgrading the youngest
the mainstay of Britain’s fishery
the Queen’s Colour – a specially-adorned RFA
of Britain’s Type 23 frigate fleet.
protection work, alongside
ensign which acknowledges the Service’s deeds
Improvements to ‘The Saint’
dedicated fishery protection ships. and sacrifi ces over the past 103 years.
include Sonar 2087, the world’s
The latter, in the form of the The RFA provides the sustenance which
best submarine-hunting kit,
River-class, are now bearing the ensures the warships of the Royal Navy can
improved communications
brunt of the burden. operate in the four corners of the globe, offering
equipment, tweaks to the
The Rivers fight for the honour fuel, ammunition, spares, food and other supplies
hangar and flight deck to allow
of lifting the Jersey Cup, but whenever and wherever the Fleet requires it.
the ship to operate Merlin
the Hunts have had their own But increasingly in recent years the RFA has
helicopters, a new 30mm gun,
silverware to aim for ‘doing fish’: been thrust into the front line; its ships are now
and a ‘go faster stripe’ – a
the Soberton Trophy. being used as the base for anti-drugs operations
transom flap on the stern which
That is now in the hands of by the UK in the Caribbean and security
can add up to one knot to the
HMS Ledbury, a final reminder operations in the northern Gulf.
(now the smell of fish has at last
speed and cut fuel usage.
And the men and material ferried by the
gone) of their days on patrol
Given the increasing usage of
RFA’s ships were vital in the Falklands confl ict
around the fishing grounds.
Type 23s in the Gulf, St Albans’
and in both Gulf wars.
The last award of the trophy
air conditioning system has
The Earl of Wessex represented the Queen
came in recognition for a
received a thorough overhaul.
at the Colour ceremony, telling those gathered
demanding 2006-07 which saw
The ship conducted several
the fl ag – the Service’s ensign with a crown and
Ledbury’s boarding team inspect royal cypher embroidered – represented “a token
weeks of trials around the UK
more than 300 trawlers, pass of Her Majesty’s admiration and trust in each
before returning to Portsmouth
on details of 30 vessels to the
and every one of you and the Fleet in which you
to be handed back to the Fleet.
authorities, and detain six vessels.
Mine countermeasures vessel
In all, fishermen coughed up
In a letter to the RFA, the Queen
HMS Penzance hasn’t been out
more than £60,000 in fines for
acknowledged that the wider public probably
of action quite as long as St
illegal activities.
knew little of the Service’s existence or its deeds
“It is always gratifying to have
– but that in its 103-year history, the auxiliary
She sailed to Rosyth at
your achievements recognised,
fl eet had made “a very great contribution to the
the turn of the year for a £2m
and the Soberton Trophy is a
‘combined engineering support’
great acknowledgement of a
She continued: “There can be no better
period which has made her the
hard, but nevertheless rewarding,
symbol of your many achievements and proud
tip-top Sandown-class warship,
year of fi shery protection patrols
history than these Colours. As well as giving
courtesy of improved warfare
for the ship’s company,” said
focus to the Royal Fleet Auxiliary’s identity,
systems as well as a general
Ledbury’s CO Lt Cdr Paul
loyalty and pride, they also manifest the deep
sprucing up of her machinery.
Russell. “We are very fl attered to
respect in which you and your vital work are held
While the ship received a
receive this award.”
by the nation.”
revamp, her ship’s company
Right, that’s quite enough of
This is the fi rst time that the Colour has
have been on a raft of courses,
fi sh.
been presented to a largely non-combatant
taken several GCSEs, and even
Ledbury is now attached
naval service and its ranking offi cer, Cdre Bob
headed to southern Germany
to NATO’s Standing Mine
Thornton, said the recognition for his men and
for the RN’s adventurous
Countermeasures Group 1
women, their families, and sailors of the RFA
training programme, Bavarian
which mustered in home waters
past, was just reward for “unstinting efforts over
(Devonport) after a summer
the past 103 years whether in peace or war.”
This month will find her
He added: “There can be no better symbol of
paying a visit to her namesake
The group, led by HMS
our proud history, of our achievements, of our
Cornish town before trials and
Roebuck, is one of two
future, or of our people, than that of a Queen’s
training resume.
minehunting forces under
CO Lt Cdr Bob Bruford
NATO’s direction, patrolling the
“I am privileged to be at the head of the
said his ship had come out of
Mediterranean, Baltic, North
Service and immensely proud to have been part
the first spell of tests before
Sea, and Atlantic.
Currently attached to the
of it.”
summer leave “with flying
Picture: LA(Phot) Caroline Davies, FRPU East
SNMCMG1 are: BNS Lobelia His sailors will spend the
(Belgium), HNLMS Urk next five months gearing up
(Holland), ENS Admiral Cowan
(Estonia) and FGS Homburg
Its four-month deployment Shooting stars halt drug-runners
for a front-line tour of duty in
the Gulf as part of the rotation
of Sandown crews in Bahrain
under Operation Aintree.
will take it to the eastern Atlantic
(Portugal) then into the Med
with visits to Palma and La
ROYAL Marine snipers shot It’s the second drugs chase opened fi re as a last resort. William Wales – who spent two
Spezia lined up inter alia.
out a speedboat’s engine as in a month for Iron Duke. Last “This fi rst 30-day patrol of months on attachment to the Wet Sausage
suspected drug smugglers month she seized £40m of our Caribbean deployment has RN. The Royal was in the back
Sark has ’em
tried to escape from the cocaine. This time no drugs been an enormous success. My of the Lynx during the drugs THE long road from refi t for
grasp of HMS Iron Duke in the were found on the boat, but ship’s company are elated at chase as an observer. the Mighty Sausage is fi nally
Caribbean. traces of cocaine were found again disrupting the activities During the fi rst month or so of over with HMS Cumberland re-
IT IS, apparently, a quarter of After the ‘go-fast’ ignored on two of its three crew. It’s of suspected drug-runners,” her Caribbean deployment, Iron dedicated in Devonport after 18
a century since a Royal Navy warning shots fi red by the thought they ditched their cargo said Commanding Offi cer Cdr Duke has also stopped a vessel months away from the front line.
warship last called upon the commandos in the back of overboard during their attempt Mark Newland. smuggling fuel, assisted a Brightly coloured awnings were
tiny community of Sark in the Iron Duke’s Lynx helicopter, to escape from the helicopter. “The skill and professionalism fi shing boat in danger of sinking erected on the flight deck – not to
Channel Islands. the green berets aimed fi ve Iron Duke had been on patrol of my helicopter crew, and and has tracked four tropical keep the sun at bay (as designed)
Minehunter HMS Cattistock shots at the motor as the boat off the coasts of Venezuela and in particular the young Royal storms or hurricanes, as well but the rain.
became the first Senior Service hurtled through the waters off Colombia when she received a Marines who fi red the rounds as carried out a disaster relief It was bucketing down and
visitor of the 21st Century Venezuela and Colombia in tip-off that a ‘go-fast’ was on to stop the ‘go-fast’ is an exercise with local authorities blowing a hoolie (technical terms
when she dropped in for some excess of 30kts. the move, and scrambled her indication of the talents that lie on the island of Montserrat – Ed) as more than a dozen
challenging navigational training. The well-aimed shots brought Lynx. within the Naval Service.”
former Commanding Officers,
Although the isle is barely the boat to a halt and when Iron After a 15-minute search, the The three speedboat crew
families, dignitaries and affiliates
three miles long, there are Duke arrived on the scene, the helicopter found the speedboat, have been handed over to ● The ‘go-fast’ burns after
from Cumbria gathered for the
apparently 40 miles of rugged boat was sent to a watery grave partially camoufl aged by Colombian authorities. Iron Duke’s gunners receive
formal service in Cumberland’s
coastline on Sark, enough to test – after its three Colombian crew tarpaulin. After repeated efforts His frigate has been home permission to sink it
hangar and on her flight deck.
even the hardiest of bridge teams. had been arrested. to make it stop, the marines to Prince William – aka S/Lt
Picture: LA(Phot) Jay Allen, FRPU East
One of those former captains,
Meanwhile, islanders offered
Rear Admiral David Cooke – now
a stern test for Cattistock’s
Commander Operations to CINC
footballers when the sailors came
Fleet – inspected the ceremonial
guard as the service began.
The minehunter men had to
Of her 18 months away from
settle for a hard-fought second
active service, Cumberland spent
place (ie they lost), but sport
12 in the hands of Devonport’s
aside the visit to Sark (pop. c600)
shipwrights, electricians and
was remarkably relaxing.
“Sark has no cars and relies
on tractors and horse-drawn
£20m was spent improving
carriages to bus visitors around,”
pretty much every aspect of the
explained Cattistock’s CO Lt Cdr
Type 22 frigate – living spaces,
David Morgan.
machinery, weaponry, main
“The tranquil pace of life
was a far cry from the likes of
That work ended at the turn of
Bahrain and Dubai where my
the year and since then the ship
ship’s company spent the first six
has been conducting extensive
months of the year.”
trials, followed by two months
Cattistock’s sailors have
with the demanding team from
recently resumed ownership of
the Flag Officer Sea Training
their ship – they were in charge
– which, you will be pleased to
of HMS Atherstone in the Gulf,
hear, she passed.
helping to erase mine danger
“We are rightly very proud
areas from charts of the region.
of our ship and what we have
“After a particularly busy
achieved,” said CO Cdr Peter
deployment, it was excellent to be
able to come back to the UK and
“Previous commanding officers
have such a fantastic welcome
will no doubt be delighted to see
from a truly amazing island the ship is in such good order.
community,” Lt Cdr Morgan “HMS Cumberland is now
added. ready in all respects.”
“I think we must have met well The frigate deploys this
over half the island’s population.” autumn for exercises in the Gulf.
0006_NN_Sept.indd 106_NN_Sept.indd 1 119/8/08 15:27:189/8/08 15:27:18
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