Greece: Portsmouth-Based Type 23 Frigate ‘Ready to Deliver’ in War Against Piracy


THE SAINTS are ready to deal with sinners after honing their boarding skills in Crete.

HMS St Albans has completed her final stint of training before entering her operational theatre east of Suez, ready to strike a blow at terrorists, smugglers and pirates.

After a brief pit-stop in Gibraltar, the Portsmouth-based Type 23 frigate headed to Souda Bay in Crete for a final check of all her sensors on the NATO ranges there.

At the same time the skills of both the ship’s boarding team, her 829 Naval Air Squadron Merlin – armed with two Royal Mariner snipers, a sniper rifle and .5 calibre machine-gun – and her Royal Marines from Fleet Protection Group were honed at a specially-designed facility on the Greek island.

Lead Boarding Officer Lt Ben Brocklebank said: “A lot of training and preparation has gone into getting both teams here to this stage.

“This has been a valuable opportunity to have all of them work together and put both their team and professional skills to the test.”

“An essential part of this process has been integrating the different skills sets that are brought by the Royal Marines boarding team and the ship’s team.”

The Saint is making best speed for the Horn of Africa where she’ll join the international effort to stop the scourge of piracy and keep the sea lanes open.

Commanding Officer Cdr Tom Sharpe said: “St Albans has spent the last five months preparing for this deployment and is now ready to deliver.

“Given the political climate in our anticipated operating area we must be prepared to cover the full spectrum of naval tasking, from routine engagements to high-intensity operations, and be able to switch between them with traditional flexibility.”

It has not been all work.

St Albans has made good use of the Mediterranean climate by breaking training with traditional deployed activities such as flight deck sports, hands to bathe and barbecues.

Best to get such things out the way before reaching their destination – a combination of operational focus and extreme temperatures (in excess of 45°C) will decimate the numbers willing to run around the upper deck.

Working as part of a coalition, St Albans will scour the seas to identify potential freebooters and deter the various illegal activities, whilst providing reassurance to those who use the sea lanes for routine and lawful business.

Source: royalnavy, June  26, 2011;