UK: Royal Navy Warship Ready for Gulf Mission


The warship is Gulf-bound, the latest Type 23 frigate to support the Navy’s – and nation’s – long-term mission in the region: security on the high seas, defending global trade routes and deterring threats to UK prosperity.

It’s the third east of Suez deployment for the ship in three years, the most recent of which was completed just before Christmas.

Since then she’s received a new CO (Cdr Paul Bristowe who’s taken over from his predecessor Andrew Burns), some extensive maintenance in the hands of Devonport dockyard experts, and some extensive pre-deployment training courtesy of Flag Officer Sea Training who put the frigate through its paces during two months of Operational Sea Training.

And last but not least, she flashed up her Seawolf air defence missile and 4.5in main gun, both of which were fired to prove the principal weaponry’s ready for any challenges Somerset might face.

So all in all, Cdr Bristowe is understandably confident that his 180-plus men and women and the £100m-plus piece of naval hardware they inhabit are at the peak of efficiency right now. He added:

“My ship’s company are well prepared – we depart from the UK confident that we can deliver our mission to a high standard, contribute to security in our operating areas and maintain the strong reputation of the UK and Royal Navy in the region.”

Amid all the warry training, the ship paused for a day to lay on a treat for families to thank them for their support during the ship’s challenging work-up to deployment – and to give a brief insight into what Somerset would do while away.

So there were some helicopter aerobatics courtesy of the ship’s Mk8 Lynx, some 4.5in gunnery funnery, fire-fighting and first-aid drills, launching and recovering the sea boat and, er, face painting, children’s entertainment and balloon parties (not typical mainstays of Type 23 life).

Having witnessed Somerset in action during that ‘families day’, many loved ones returned to the Plymouth waterfront this morning.

Such support, said Cdr Bristowe, meant a huge deal to his ship’s company.

“I cannot emphasise enough the value of the support provided by family and friends to everyone onboard.”

“Although a lengthy operational deployment is professionally rewarding for Somerset’s ship’s company it’s tinged with the sadness of leaving families and loved ones behind.”

As well as maritime security duties, HMS Somerset will take part in numerous multinational exercises with the UK’s allies and partners in the Middle East, before she returns to Devonport in February 2012.

Source: royalnavy, August 19, 2011;