Royal Navy Ship Exercises with Saudi Partners


HMS Somerset’s first act upon beginning her security patrol east of Suez was an exercise with the Saudi warship HMS Taif. The two vessels met in the Red Sea and Somerset’s Royal Marines carried out a practice boarding of the Saudi vessel..

A Royal Marine from HMS Somerset wields his weapon as the commandos demonstrate the art of board and search aboard the Saudi warship HMS Taif.

The two ships met up in the Red Sea as Somerset began her maritime security patrol in earnest – just days after receiving the baton from her sister ship HMS Monmouth.

As a key link between Suez and the open waters of the Indian Ocean, the Red Sea is one of the world’s busiest and most important shipping lanes.

So after conducting some deft handling manoeuvres, the combined crews of the Somerset and Taif (pronounced tie-eef) maximum use of their rendezvous by honing boarding drills, culminating in the Saudi ship’s captain allowing the commandos of Fleet Protection Group to demonstrate how they board and search, after clambering aboard from their frigate’s two sea boats.

Practice over, the green berets shared tactics with their fellow mariners.
After a traditional exchange of ship’s badges and formal salute as the two frigates sailed in company, the ships went their separate ways with HMS Taif’s captain Cdr Fahad Al-Shomrani declaring it had been “a pleasure to work with the Royal Navy.

Somerset’s Commanding Officer Cdr Paul Bristowe said:

“The Red Sea is one of the busiest sea lanes in the world, bearing shipping vital to the global economic recovery. Illegal maritime activity in these waters is a threat to the free passage of trade. Safe transit is mutually beneficial to both the UK and Saudi Arabia; as such, it is an ideal shared endeavour with which to cement relations.”

Somerset is now knuckling down to her east of Suez duties. As the monsoon season is waning, illegal activity in waters east of Suez – piracy, smuggling, drug running, people trafficking – is expected to increase.

In addition the frigate will work with and visit a number of nations, helping maintain relations and the strong reputation of the Royal Navy in the region before returning home to Devonport in February.

Source: royalnavy, September 19, 2011;