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NAVY NEWS, DECEMBER 2008 9
Long time no see for Gulf ships
MINEHUNTERS HM ships Pembroke and
Grimsby have sailed from the Clyde – and may
not be back until 2011.
The Sandown-class pair – among the most capable
ships of their type in the world – will relieve sisters
HM ships Blyth and Ramsey, which have been in the
Gulf for 27 months carrying out ordnance disposal and
hydrographical work in difficult and dangerous waters.
Blythe and Ramsey left the UK as part of the
experimental Aintree deployment, which has now
evolved into a highly-successful element of Operation
Telic, the umbrella title for UK military operations in
the Gulf.
Once in the Gulf the ships will stay on station, giving
the RN a permanent presence in the Gulf, while the crews
fly in and out for deployments of five to eight months.
All four ships are members of the MCM1 (Mine
Counter Measures) flotilla based at Faslane, whose
Commanding Officer, Cdr Henry Merewether, said:
“These ships do an outstanding job in the Gulf.
“They can go into waters that other, steel constructed
ships, cannot.
“Modern mines are cheap to produce and extremely
dangerous. We cannot put a value on the work that these
small ships are doing.”
Capt Mark Beverstock, Captain of the Base at
Faslane, added: “People sometimes forget that the
Clyde is home to some of the finest minehunters in
the world – and that they are doing a remarkable job
in the Gulf.
“Furthermore, a wider regional engagement goes
a very long way to cementing our friendships with
countries like Oman, Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, Kuwait
and Qatar.”
Flag Officer Scotland, Northern England and
Northern Ireland, Rear Admiral Martin Alabaster,
said: “Everyone connected with these small ships, with
their 40-man crews, can be very proud of what they are
achieving, both in terms of stamina and dedication.
“The work that they are doing is quite remarkable.”
The voyage is expected to take seven weeks, arriving
at the port of Mina Sulman in Manama just before
Christmas.
As Navy News went to press, the ships had completed
a four-day visit to Gibraltar, where both ships’ companies
took part in Remembrance Sunday services.
The visit to the Rock also signalled the start to
Grimsby’s fundraising efforts for the deployment, aimed
at boosting the coffers of Help for Heroes.
The ball was set rolling with a Remembrance Sunday
collection, and continued with a beard-growing competition
as sailors vie for the title ‘Bahrain Blackbeard’.
Sailors also took part in the Rock Race, a three-mile
● HMS Grimsby leads the way as she and sister ship HMS Pembroke leave the Clyde for a two-year deployment to the Gulf
course which climbs 1,300ft to the top of Gibraltar.
Picture: PO(Phot) Tam McDonald (FRPU North)
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