UK: Royal Navy Frigate Fosters Ration Revolution in Gulf


HMS St Albans is using the human touch to help her defeat criminal activity in the Gulf.

The Portsmouth-based frigate is visiting up to ten dhows a day on patrol in the region, building up relations with local fishermen and learning about the ‘pattern of life’ in these waters

You never forget your first rat pack…

In the heat of the Gulf, HMS St Alban’s boarding team hand some food to the crew of one of the countless dhows ploughing their trade in these waters – part of the hearts and minds effort by the Saint to show she’s here to help.

Hence this AA – Alongside Assurance – visit, one of hundreds carried out by the Portsmouth-based frigate on her patrols around the Gulf.

Sailors and Royal Marines draw up in the Type 23’s sea boats alongside the fishing dhows, discuss any blazing issues, and present gifts of food and water – always welcome in the sweltering conditions experienced this time of year.

The ship’s doctor is also on hand to assist with any medical issues under our commitment to assist ill mariners.

If it sounds a bit touchy feely, it’s an indispensable way of gaining the trust and respect of local mariners – and above all to find out what’s going on.

Whilst the very presence of a warship can represent a substantial deterrent to smugglers, the ‘Saint’ needs to single out criminals from the law abiding fisherman and merchants that ply their trade in the area, which is where the human touch comes in.

“We normally visit over ten fishing dhows a day and the people we meet onboard are always glad to see us.”

Said L/Cpl Ben Glover, one of the Royal Marines Commandos in the Saint’s ‘green’ boarding team.

“It’s amazing to watch the effect that giving them just a simple ration pack can make!”

“These guys are obviously used to living on the bare essentials, so a bit of cold water and food goes a long way. The fishermen are normally happy to chat with us and every little thing we learn about their way of life can potentially help us beat the smugglers.”

His ship is currently operating under the banner of the Combined Maritime Forces, the three international naval task groups (150, 151 and 152) which strive to keep the waters east of Suez safe and free.

In the case of the Saint, the pertinent number is 152, responsible for the entire Gulf from the shores of Iraq to the Strait of Hormuz, working alongside the other navies and coastguards in the region to ensure the safe passage of mariners.

“Everybody onboard understands the important work that we are doing in the Gulf, helping to secure these important trading routes is vital to both the UK and the rest of the world.”

Stresses the frigate’s operations officer, Lt Cdr Will King.

“Whilst we go about our security patrols, building our understanding of the area, we will remain at a state of high readiness, able to react to any event whatever it may require of us whether its humanitarian relief or military combat operations.”

Source: royalnavy, September 21, 2011