Hunt-Class Mine Countermeasure Vessel HMS Brocklesby Completes her Mission off Libya


After three months ensuring the people of Misrata receive humanitarian aid by keeping their port open, HMS Brocklesby has completed her Libyan mission.

But there is no let-up in the international effort supporting the free peoples of Libya – and bringing pressure to bear on the Gaddafi regime – with HMS Bangor taking Brocklesby’s place.

Brocklesby hit the international headlines at the end of April when she blew up one mine laid by pro-Government forces then swept the sea lane into Misrata to allow the aid ship Red Star I to sail in and deliver her cargo.

“It was good clearing the mine – and it is special being part of the crew which did that,”

said mine warfare specialist AB ‘Mac’ McGuinness.

That was the highlight of the ship’s mission – but far from the end of it. Since those dramatic few hours, Brocklesby’s continued to play a crucial role as part of NATO’s Operation Unified Protector, maintaining a constant mine countermeasures presence in the sea off Misrata, keeping the waters mine-free to ensure that Libyan citizens can receive the help they desperately need.

“The threat of mines and water-borne improvised explosive devices is still high – despite NATO attacks on Libyan naval units in early June,”


explained navigator Lt Joel Roberts.

“Mines can be laid by fishing vessels, and as Misrata is a working port, there are plenty of small and large ships transiting through the approaches – so the area needs continuous surveying and assurance that humanitarian aid can safely enter and exit the port.

“With the Dutch ship Haarlem and Belgian Narcis we’ve spent the past month patrolling and hunting the Misrata coastline, sometimes going in so close to the shore itself that you can see the small Libyan rebel flags fluttering on the cars driving up and down the coastal road and flying from the breakwaters entering the harbour.”


And be in no doubt about it: the 40-plus sailors aboard the small warship have been very much in harm’s way.

“Every now and again the shockwaves of heavy artillery and shells landing in the city can be felt throughout the ship even over two miles from land,”

said Lt Roberts.

“Wearing 15 kg body armour in 27˚C under the Mediterranean sun isn’t comfortable, but suddenly it feels more so.”


All of which wasn’t expected when the ship left Portsmouth at the beginning of the year to join a NATO minewarfare group patrolling Europe waters.

“This has certainly been a different deployment from our original tasking, but this conflict and subsequent minelaying has been the exact reason why NATO has a constant mine countermeasures group in the Mediterranean,”

said Brocklesby’s Commanding Officer Lt Cdr James Byron.

“The crew has acted superbly and stoutly to the changing programme and the threat close inshore to the Libyan coast. I could not be more proud of them, or their friends and families back home who have constantly provided support and patience.


“I wish HMS Bangor happy hunting.”

After a brief handover in Malta to Faslane-based Bangor, Brocklesby will head west though the Strait of Gibraltar on ‘Pompey revs’ (ie. full speed), stopping in Plymouth briefly to pick up a few friends and family to join them on their homecoming celebration into Portsmouth on July 4.
Source: royal-navy, June 21, 2011;