HMS Liverpool Takes Break From Libya Operations


After two months on-and-off patrolling the Gulf of Sirte, HMS Liverpool took a break from her Libya operations for a spot of R&R – and ceremonial.

The visit to Grand Harbour coincided with the Queen’s official birthday – an event not only celebrated in the UK and RN, but also by islanders in this Commonwealth nation.

And so with the Portsmouth-based warship alongside at Pinto Wharf at mid-day on June 10, her ceremonial team fired a 21-gun salute – believed to be the first time a Royal Navy vessel has done so in Grand Harbour since the Senior Service withdrew from the island at the end of the 1970s.

The ship’s company were invited to a formal birthday party at the British High Commission where Maltese guests were thanked for their ongoing support for the UK – and in particular their assistance during the evacuation of civilians from Libya earlier this year.

Valletta was the hub of the rescue mission for Allied warships – not least HM Ships Cumberland and York – and civilian vessels.

Liverpool’s crew also paid visits to sailors past – once Navy, always Navy – by dropping in on Malta’s Royal Naval Association and the RN Officers’ Association.

Away from formal duties, the 240-plus sailors finally had a chance to let their hair down; a good number of loved ones made the three-hour flight from the UK to spend six days in Malta – indeed, many were waiting for the destroyer as she entered harbour.

“My ship’s company were in need of some rest and relaxation – and we were all looking forward to our visit, especially those who had family flying out to meet us. It was a fantastic visit to an island of which I am very fond.”

Said Cdr Colin Williams, Liverpool’s Commanding Officer.

His ship hit the headlines back in May when her 4.5in gun opened fire on a rocket battery near Misrata – the first time the main guns of a British warship have been fired in anger since Iraq in 2003.

More recent patrols – interspersed with a quick-fire engine change in Taranto in southern Italy – have been, thankfully, less dramatic with the ship enforcing an arms embargo on the Gaddafi regime and directing Allied air traffic in support of the No Fly Zone over the embattled country, alongside 17 other NATO warships in an impressive task force arrayed across the Gulf of Sirte.

To those duties has been added a fresh one: protecting Britain’s biggest warship.

With HMS Ocean now dispatched to the Libya mission as a launchpad for Apache helicopters, she needs safeguarding from any potential foes – just the job Liverpool and her sisters were originally built to do.

To discuss the latter mission, as well as Liverpool’s overarching role on Operation Unified Protector – NATO’s codename for the air-sea effort in Libya – Cdre John Kingwell, Commander UK Task Group, left the Mighty O to visit the Crazy Red Chicken and talk with Cdr Williams plus members of the ship’s company.
Source: royalnavy, June 22, 2011;