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Fawkes for good
HOW do you celebrate Guy Fawkes night minus (a)
bonfi re and (b) fi reworks?
Ask HMS Campbeltown, who managed to enjoy November 5
without both its traditional accompaniments.
Actually, that’s not strictly true.
There was a bonfire aboard the Type 22 frigate, currently on
terrorist-busting duties east of Suez.
It probably didn’t give off too much heat (made of crêpe paper as
it was) but it did perhaps warm the spirits of the ship’s company.
It fell to the female mess aboard to host Fawkes festivities (which
bore more than a passing resemblance to Halloween with apple
bobbing and toffee apples, accompanied by blaring stereo and the
ubiquitous barbecue).
Anyway, when not upholding British customs, Campbeltown has
been enforcing the rules of the sea under Operation Calash.
Calash is just one strand of the global maritime security mission,
covering the Red and Arabian Seas and the Gulf of Aden.
And that’s a big area. (I would guess about two million square miles
of sea bordered by a coastline 6,500 miles long in 14 nations – Ed.)
It’s also an area riven by unrest, piracy, smuggling (chiefly guns
and drugs) and terrorist activities. And it’s an area through which
half the world’s oil passes in tankers.
As a result, Cambeltown’s boarding party has been pretty active.
“They reassure local mariners that we are here to help and glean
any information they may have on any illegal activities which may be
occurring,” said CO Cdr Gordon Abernethy.
A new illegal activity to contend with in this region is people
Gangs have exploited the political and tribal chaos in Somalia by
offering to transport their countryfolk to safety... for a price.
The boats they use are frequently unseaworthy with many of the
Somalis drowning in their bid for a better life.
Of course, Campbeltown is not alone in this wide-ranging
Apart from other Allied warships in the region, the frigate has
been working closely with Yemen’s Coastguard.
Four Yemeni officers joined Campbeltown to share their knowledge
of the coast, local maritime activities and local customs – and
proved invaluable as interpreters during boarding operations.
One wonders what the Yemeni visitors would have made of one
of the RN’s more unusual customs (admittedly a very new one) had
they observed fancy dress flight deck dodgeball.
Parading on the frigate’s flight deck were the Campbeltown
Clowns, the Clubswingers, a bunch of bikinied beauties (unfortunately
from a male mess...), and the wardroom dressed in garish shirts (so
their normal run ashore attire, then – Ed).
The honours went to the Mis-fits – apparently comprising G-Unit,
Popeye, Spiderman and an angel.
They left the ‘field of battle’ with a crate of Fosters (now just a
crate – Ed).
● Silver surfer... Campbeltown glides through a shimmering
Mediterranean during the opening stages of her 7½-month
deployment east of Suez Picture: LA(Phot) Pete Smith, FRPU Whale Island
013_NN_Dec new.indd 1 21/11/07 11:17:11
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