Type 23 Frigate Conducts NATO Embargo Operations Off Libya

The Type 23 has been called away from the Response Force Task Group to become the primary surface combatant in support of the NATO Operation Unified Protector.

Sutherland has already carried out her first boarding operation, under the auspices of UN Security Council Resolutions 1970 and 1973, and sent her highly-capable team of Royal Marines and Royal Navy sailors to search a merchant vessel in international waters close to Libya.

Royal Marine Lt Viggars, the Officer Commanding Sutherland’s Royal Marines Boarding Team, said:

“In a highly-demanding sea state, my lads swiftly – but safely – boarded the suspect vessel and conducted a thorough search.”

“Once we had satisfied ourselves that they were not in breach of the embargo, my Marines and Royal Navy teams disembarked as professionally as they arrived.”

“The vessel was cleared to proceed along her original course and we returned to Sutherland.”

The ship is tasked to support the current arms embargo, blocking the flow of weapons and munitions into the hands of pro-Gaddafi forces, and by this process protecting the lives of Libyan civilians.

Cdr Roger Readwin, Commanding Officer of HMS Sutherland, explained how the Naval boarding teams were supporting the UN embargoes:

“HMS Sutherland is able to quickly insert multiple specialist teams by high-speed boat whilst simultaneously providing close surveillance of the vessel and her crew using our state-of-the-art sensors and highly-capable Lynx helicopter.”

NATO units enforcing the embargo initially assess suspicious vessels electronically using the Automated Identification System, which gathers detailed information before the vessel has been boarded.

This is enhanced by ‘hailing’ the ship over the radio allowing information about the vessel and its cargo to be further scrutinised and irregularities investigated.

“We work very closely with the Royal Marines boarding teams in order to secure a ship, allowing us to search it safely and thoroughly,” said Petty Officer Jones, one of the Royal Navy team commanders.

“Although, like always, there is a fair bit of banter between the Royal Navy and Royal Marines boarding teams, we always work professionally together and combined, give Sutherland a formidable asset ready to go at a moment’s notice.”

Always ready for operational tasking, HMS Sutherland left the UK in April 2011 as part of the Response Force Task Group that includes HMS Albion and HMS Ocean.

Since then she has supported operations and exercises off of Libya, the Mediterranean, Red Sea and the Arabian Gulf including exercises with the United Arab Emirates as part of exercise Sea Khanjar.

Cdr Readwin concluded: “This has been a highly-demanding deployment but, as always, my ship’s company have proven their resilience and upheld the best traditions of the Navy.

“However, key to the success of Sutherland on operations is the dedicated and continuous support from our ever-loyal network of families and friends and they have my heart-felt thanks.”


Source: royalnavy, July 27, 2011;