Sandown-Class Minehunter Blows Up Mines on Libyan Mission


This is a 2,000lb mine sitting at the bottom of the Mediterranean, nearly 500ft down, off the Libyan port of Tobruk.Today it is no more, a legacy of the Gaddafi regime blown up by HMS Bangor during a concerted search of harbours in eastern Libya.

After spending much of her time off Misrata helping to keep the sea lanes to the then besieged port open earlier in the civil war, the Faslane-based minehunter was given a new mission: to check other ports and deal with the residual threat of mines and other unexploded ordnance left behind by the former regime.Her crew found the Libyan explosive device in 475ft (145m) of water off Tobruk and blew it up using her underwater Seafox mine disposal drone. As she prepared to leave Tobruk, Bangor found a torpedo nearby, and blasted that as well.

Bangor’s Commanding Officer, Lieutenant Commander Neil Marriott, 38, said:

To find two pieces of ordnance and destroy them safely is a great result for my ship’s company.
“We have been hunting for mines since June, working from port to port, and a success like this means shipping into Libya is that much safer.”

Both weapons were spotted by a mine warfare team working in Bangor’s darkened operations room, as they kept a close eye on the data fed back by the Sandown-class ship’s cutting edge sonar sensors..

Ops room supervisor PO Steve ‘Stirling’ Moss, 40, from Scarborough, said:

“When we’re mine-hunting we have several people watching the screens for any contact.
“On this task we saw several items which looked about the size of a mine, and two of them turned out to be real.
“It’s not a regular thing to happen, so we’re really pleased we found them and we were able to destroy them.”

Bangor’s 38-strong crew have been part of Operation Unified Protector since taking over from the minehunter HMS Brocklesby, which blew up a mine near Misrata as the war with Colonel Gaddafi raged.
Lt Cdr Marriott, from Edinburgh, said:

“We were due to go and work in the North Sea and Baltic when we deployed, but this task took priority and we were ready to do it.
“We have hunted for mines off Benghazi and Brega already, and are ready to search in any other Libyan port that needs it.
“With both of these explosives they were historic, and their detonation methods had corroded, but they could still have been set off accidentally so it was the right thing to do to destroy them.”

Bangor moved away from the Libyan coastline with a Dutch minehunter and Canadian frigate on Sunday, but is ready to return there if needed.
The Sandown-class ship is one of two RN vessels committed to the ongoing NATO mission off Libya; veteran destroyer continues to patrol the Gulf of Sirte enforcing UN resolutions.
Supply ship RFA Fort Rosalie has been ordered home as she’s no longer required, while HMS Ocean has been dispatched east of Suez now her Apache gunships are no longer needed to conduct strike missions against targets ashore.

Source: royalnavy, October 05, 2011