HMS Dauntless Hosts Cooperation Talks with Sierra Leone Dignitaries
Fresh from patrolling the North Atlantic, HMS Dauntless has made her mark in Sierra Leone. The Type 45 destroyer’s crew completed an important visit to the capital Freetown, reinforcing recent exercises between the ship and West Africa navies.
Britain’s High Commissioner Ian Hughes played host onboard to the Sierra Leonean Deputy Foreign Minister Mrs Ebun Jusu and other diplomats and dignitaries.
Friday night’s event was used to both discuss the work Dauntless has done to boost maritime security throughout the region and to launch a trade fair that was held aboard over the weekend.
Dauntless’ setting helped launch British businesses seeking a foothold in Sierra Leone’s growing economic market place and allowed already established UK firms to expand their networks.
Captain Will Warrender, commanding officer of Portsmouth-based HMS Dauntless, said:
“West Africa as a region is very important to the UK and we have a particular affiliation to Sierra Leone.
“Specifically we have been helping increase maritime security throughout the region in light of increasing reports of piracy and disruption to vital shipping routes.
“This has been a really successful visit which as part of our wider regional engagement throughout West Africa has set the benchmark for future visits.”
Recently HMS Dauntless has visited Cape Verde and Senegal, taking part in the multi-national Exercise Sahara Express which focused on training local navies in boarding techniques for various security roles.
While security and trade were key focuses in Sierra Leone the crew also managed to visit the local area for charity and sporting events. There were three football matches, running events and a golf match at the local course – though players avoided looking too hard for lost balls because of deadly Green Mamba snakes.
One crew member had more reason than most to visit having been part of a long term child sponsorship initiative through the charity World Vision.
Lieutenant Lindsey Griffiths, 28, one of Dauntless’ Fighter Controllers, took the opportunity to travel deep into the country to the Bonthe District and finally meet the little girl she had been sponsoring for six years.
As well as meeting 12-year-old Massah Lindsey delivered gifts from the Ship’s Company to the school which Massah attends.
“It really was a once in a life time opportunity, I feel incredibly lucky that I got the chance to do it.
“The reception we received when we got to the village was really overwhelming, and I was so pleased to finally get to meet Massah.
“She is such a lovely little girl, and her family were the nicest people you could hope to meet”
Lieutenant Commander Matt Strattan, 41, the ship’s Weapon Engineering Officer, escorted Lindsey. He said:
“It was an amazing experience and it was really humbling to meet the people there who are all infectiously happy despite having next to nothing”.
Naval Today Staff, June 1, 2012; Image: Royal Navy