Royal Navy Warship Passes 100-day Milestone on Patrol off Libya


As fighting rages in Tripoli, off the coast of the Libyan capital the men and women of HMS Liverpool are marking their own milestone: 100 days on patrol.

The crew of the veteran destroyer say they’ve become ‘battle-hardened’ by their experiences of the past four months – which have called upon the ship to enter hostile waters every other day.

The Portsmouth-based warship has been directly targeted by pro-Gaddafi forces on seven occasions – and on ten occasions has responded, either with warning shots from her main gun, or a hail of steel and high explosive to wipe out gun batteries and vehicle concentrations.

For the first time it’s been revealed that the destroyer prepared to fire her main armament – her Sea Dart missile system – during ‘a tense stand-off with pro-Gaddafi forces’.

The ship came under fire by multiple rockets – but thankfully the projectiles fell a few short, harmlessly landing in the sea which meant she did not have to engage. The shore missile battery was subsequently knocked out by Apache gunships launched from HMS Ocean.

Since relieving HMS Cumberland back in April, the ship’s company have gone to action stations on 30 occasions as they carry out their mission under NATO’s Operation Unified Protector to protect the people of Libya and bring pressure to bear on the Gaddafi regime.

Commanding Officer Cdr Colin Williams said:

“The sight of personnel calmly donning white anti-flash suits in the middle of the night has become commonplace.”

“To work this hard has required sailors to show stamina and resolve.”

Under the NATO umbrella, the Type 42 destroyer has carried out varied missions from enforcing the arms embargo to support of the no-fly zone and air strikes against the Libyan government’s military machine.

The fighter controllers in the operations room have directed the actions of 14 different types of Allied aircraft for more than 280 hours (that’s more than 11 whole days) guiding them through hostile air space and taking over from E3 AWACS ‘eyes in the sky’ on occasions when the aerial sentries were unavailable.

Throughout the challenging Libyan mission, Cdr Williams says he’s been struck by the attitude and sheer professionalism of the 240-plus men and women under his command – and that it’s clear to all that they’ve achieved something worthwhile on their 100 days on patrol.

He explained:

“The real sense of pride in seeing tangible results ashore as a result of our actions at sea is felt by all onboard.”

“When we took over from Cumberland, the besieged city of Misrata was under imminent threat of collapse.”

“Since then we’ve seen the rebels push the pro-Gaddafi forces back, allowing shipping access to the port and a semblance of normality to return to these once-troubled streets.”

“Liverpool’s ship’s company have worked closely alongside our NATO naval and air partners, through long and dangerous hours of constant threat, in a professional and resolute fashion.”

“I am immensely proud to have had the opportunity to command them – they have once again proven why the Royal Navy remains a benchmark for others to follow.”

As Liverpool marks 100 days, more details have emerged of her rescue mission to help a stricken Maltese merchant ship trying to enter Tripoli to pick up evacuees.

The MV Triva hoped to enter harbour to collect Maltese citizens and ferry them back to their homeland. But as it approached the port, its crew were worried by the sight of a small boat coming to the meet them. Their ship also came under fire from the shoreline.

Not knowing whether the craft was friend or foe, the Maltese asked for Liverpool’s protection.

Later that same day, the Triva again asked for help – this time when she suffered engine problems. Despite the efforts of her crew, the ship began drifting towards the Libyan shore.

Against a backdrop of fireworks and artillery fire, Liverpool prepared to tow the stricken vessel to the safety of international waters…

…Which the destroyer safely did after a night of intense seamanship. Once outside Libyan waters, work to repair the Triva could begin. The crew explained that fishing nets had wrapped around the propellers.

Three of Liverpool’s divers went down and fixed the problem. It seemed an impossible task initially, but after hard work and determination, the trio were able to remove the fishing nets.

Source: royalnavy, August 24, 2011;