UK: HMS Middleton’s Gun Crew Show What They Can Do in Gulf
HMS Middleton’s gun crew let rip with the minehunter’s 30mm main gun in the middle of the Gulf – probably the highlight of a demonstration day.
The Hunt-class ship is one of a four-strong Royal Navy mine warfare force based at Mina Salman port in Bahrain, helping to keep the sea lanes open and promote close working relationships with local and visiting navies in the Gulf.
The actions of the quartet are choreographed from an impressive headquarters in the kingdom – and to give the international staff an idea of what happens on the high seas, Middleton took them to sea for a ‘capability day’.
Staff from the UK Maritime Component Commander (the foremost RN command east of Suez) plus the Combined Maritime Forces (a multinational team directing naval operations in the Gulf and beyond) and the US Navy (Bahrain is home to the US Fifth Fleet) sailed with Middleton for a mixture of briefings and hands-on demonstrations.
The ship’s company explained Middleton’s role to their visitors, showed how they hunt for mines, and outlined the latest clearance divers’ equipment – the warm, silted, shallow waters of the Gulf pose particular problems for man and machine hunting for potentially-lethal underwater explosive devices.
The real ‘fun’ came courtesy of Middleton’s gunbusters, who blasted away with the 30mm, then supervised their visitors as they were given the chance to fire the ship’s general purpose machine guns and the impressive Miniguns – a Gatling gun which spews out at least 2,000 rounds of 7.62mm ammunition in a minute (think mini Phalanx, but in the hands of a sailor rather than automated…)
Garry Hindle, an MOD official working for UKMCC said:
“We had a fascinating insight into life onboard a small vessel.”
“The briefs were very informative and the training which we observed demonstrated the skill, professionalism and good humour of the crew.”
For Middleton’s Commanding Officer Lt Cdr Andy Ingham the day was much more than just an opportunity for his 40-strong ship’s company to ‘show off’.
“We also had the opportunity to carry out continuation training for the sailors – that allows us to develop the expertise necessary for our full range of capabilities.”
Middleton’s ship’s company are on a seven-month stint aboard; when done another crew from the Hunt community will take over to continue the vessel’s presence in the region.
Source: royalnavy, August 11, 2011;