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Coming in from the warmth
AN icy wind could not take the sheen off the warm welcome from 600 loved ones and Equal reward no doubt was the sizeable welcome for the frigate on the Devonport
friends who greeted the sailors of HMS Montrose after seven months away. jetty.
The Devonian weather was probably a shock to the system for the Type 23 frigate’s “It’s fantastic to come home to such a warm welcome. It is great to see so many
crew who have spent the bulk of the deployment sizzling in the Gulf and Indian Ocean, families on the jetty,” Cdr Hogben added.
with temperatures topping 50˚C at their peak. “My ship’s company have been waiting for this moment for seven months and it
Despite such heat, work had to go on as normal – and Montrose’s more than makes up for the time away from them.
efforts safeguarding the seas and keeping criminal activity in check “I must say ‘thank you’ to the families on behalf of the whole ship – without their
resulted in the biggest drugs bust of the year by Allied naval forces emotional and practical support back home while we have been away in the Middle
east of Suez. East this would have been a harder job than it already was.”
In a gruelling, sweaty, dirty operation, the frigate’s boarding party HMS Northumberland has temporarily taken over from Montrose in the region,
found hashish and heroin stashed in a secret compartment. The although she’ll soon be heading for the South Atlantic.
drugs had a street value of around £20m. As for Montrose, she sails for Rosyth next month. After four major
That bust was part of a concerted effort by Allied naval deployments in four years, she’s in need of some TLC.
units, and the RN in particular, to tackle narcotics traffi cking:
Picture: LA(Phot) Dave Sterratt, FRPU
the combined efforts of HM Ships Montrose, Chatham,
Edinburgh and RFA Argus (plus her surveillance Sea Kings)
resulted in British vessels seizing 23 tonnes of drugs.
“I am extremely proud of my ship’s company, they
have worked really hard in harsh conditions,”
said Montrose’s CO Cdr Andy Hogben.
“We had several successes out there
and the major one was the biggest ever
seizure of illegal drugs in the region.
It only dawned on us later that
the drugs we were destroying
were being taken off the
streets of Britain – the
real reward of our
Readying for the long road home
WHILE their ships geared up for the long journey home, Lt Taylor. Heroes. Nearly ten per cent of that total came courtesy of
and Scots
eight sailors from HMS Ramsey and Blyth headed to As for the rest of the ship’s company, they were one bidder who paid £400 to have two of Ramsey’s chefs
the tip of the Gulf to share their expertise with Iraqi toiling hard to prepare Ramsey for the (sorry, logisticians (catering services (preparation))
counterparts. 8,300-nautical-mile journey from Bahrain, pop around their house to prepare a meal.
THE number of men and women
From Ramsey, Navigator Lt Marc Taylor, bosun the base for RN operations in the Gulf, to Ramsey’s partner on the Aintree deployment,
aboard HMS Campbeltown has
CPO Burridge and ABs Tony Carr and ‘Pooley’ Faslane. HMS Blyth, has also been a hive of activity as her
fallen sevenfold as the frigate
Poole joined RFA Cardigan Bay (16,000 tons The holy month of Ramadan meant ship’s company prepare the mine countermeasures
knuckles down to 12 months of
to Ramsey’s 600) which is key to training Iraqi that life in the normally bustling vessel for the trip home.
refi t.
sailors and marines. state has been rather quieter than Whilst the Ramseyers have been in the
Before arriving in Rosyth, the
The landing support ship is the hub for normal, but there’s been enough pool, football has been the mainstay of Blyth’s
Devonport-based warship visited
instruction and guidance provided by the in the impressive – and modern sporting activities... and rather more basic
the two most important places
RN-led Naval Transition Team. – US base to keep the sailors facilities at the HQ of US Fifth Fleet. ‘Soccer’
with which she is indelibly linked:
The octet observed various training occupied during downtime, isn’t one of the Americans’ preferred sports,
St Nazaire and the Scottish town.
exercises, provided input to the instruction to including a swimming pool. so the Blyth footballers reverted to jumpers for
The former owes its ties with
Iraqi marines and then joined Iraqi boarding Ramsey’s crew were enticed by goalposts.
the ship to a daring raid 66 years
parties on, er, boarding ops around the KAAOT a ‘grand’ prize to swim the Channel – Ramsey and Blyth comprise the Sandown part
ago. Operation Chariot, led by
and ABOT oil terminals whose protection is at the 40km or 800 lengths. Those who succeeded of the Aintree deployment; Hunts Chiddingfold and
a former US destroyer HMS
heart of their mission. proudly walked away with a T-shirt. Atherstone make up the remainder of the force – they only
Campbeltown, was meant to
“It was a great experience to witness both the work of And the sailors also joined the ex-pat community for a arrived in the Gulf earlier this year, so it will be some time
knock out the dry dock facilities
NaTT and the vital operations in the northern Gulf,” said charity auction, which raised more than £4,000 for Help for before they return to Blighty.
to prevent Germany’s capital
ships from using them.
Explosives crammed into
Campbeltown’s bow wrecked the
dry dock as intended (it would
not be put back into use until
Merlin fl ies with Eaglets
1947) and killed 250 Germans
clearing up after the raid.
Five VCs were awarded in
AIRCREW from 820 NAS headed to the
the aftermath of the raid, one to
unfamiliar surroundings of Merseyside to help
Campbeltown’s CO that fateful
local reservists carry out training.
day, Lt Cdr Stephen Beattie.
They took a Merlin (after a brief pit stop on the
Six decades later, his sons Nick
way to refuel) to RAF Woodvale near Southport
and Tim Beattie – members of the
to a weekend exercise with the North West’s
St Nazaire Association – sailed
naval reservist unit, HMS Eaglet.
with today’s Campbeltown, as did
The Culdrose fl iers dropped in to demonstrate
Chariot survivor Steven Barney, a
the £40m helicopter’s load lifting ability (and its
veteran of HMS Atherstone.
very potent downdraught as well).
The people of St Nazaire
Or at least they did for one day of the
honour the men of Chariot as
weekend. Sadly the local weather (North West,
much as today’s Campbeltown
autumn, rain – you get the picture) curbed any
sailors: French and Britons stood
fl ying on the Sunday.
side by side at a memorial service
But that did give the airmen a chance to show
for those who lost their lives in
a sizeable number of Air Training Corps cadets
the raid, before moving to the
around the helicopter, followed by dozens of
port’s town hall for a reception.
university students.
After the solemnity of France,
Still, Saturday proved rather busy.
the frigate’s last visit to her
A group of senior RN offi cers clambered in
namesake town before entering
the back of the cab to view Merseyside from the
refi t proved rather more upbeat.
The ship hosted a reception
For the rank and fi le, arrangements were
and took affi liates, including local
rather more rudimentary… at least one Eaglet
Sea Cadets, to sea for the day.
was winched aboard the Merlin as the 820
And while the warship was
team demonstrated the helicopter’s Search and
tied up at a jetty, a working party
Rescue role, before lifting and shifting some
headed ashore to construct a path
loads at Altar camp on Merseyside, home to the
and decking area for a local care
training exercise.
home, while another 30 sailors
The weather improved suffi ciently by Monday
got stuck in with a beach clean
for the Merlin to return to Cornwall and rejoin
– and were rewarded for their
its fi ve sisters as the squadron hones its anti-
efforts with a barbecue.
submarine and maritime patrol skills before
From Campbeltown it was
joining a carrier for exercises.
on to the Firth of Forth and
■ Squadron of the Month, page 12
preparations for the multi-
Picture: LA(Phot) Carl Osmond, RNAS Culdrose
million-pound revamp in Rosyth.
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