HMS Argyll Arrives in Dakar, Senegal

HMS Agryll Arrives in Dakar, Senegal

Royal Navy warship HMS Argyll has arrived in Dakar, Senegal for the start of a huge multi-national exercise off the coast of West Africa. The Type-23 frigate will represent the UK at Exercise Saharan Express which has been designed to improve cooperation for the participating nations while they operate in the area.

Several West African and European nations are taking part, including Cape Verde, Cote d’Ivoire, France, The Gambia, Liberia, Mauritania, Morocco, The Netherlands, Portugal, Senegal, Sierra Leone, Spain and the United States.

The biggest exercise to date, this is the third Saharan Express, and will see ten ships, three maritime patrol aircraft and one helicopter descend on the West African coastline.

Commander Tim Neild, the Commanding Officer of HMS Argyll, said:

Exercise Saharan Express provides African, European and U.S. maritime forces the opportunity to work together, share information and refine tactics, techniques and procedures in order to assist our West African partners build their capacity to monitor and enforce their territorial waters and economic exclusive zones.

“It is a unique opportunity and I am proud that Argyll is at the hub of this year’s exercise.”

Preparation for the exercise is well underway with a pre-sailing conference already held, as well as safety briefs and harbour boarding drills for the Liberian law enforcement detachment boarding party that will sail with Argyll for the exercise.

The Liberian boarding team, led by Ensign Salomu, practised the approach to Argyll by seaboat and then learnt to safely and swiftly scale the ship’s side. Training continued to familiarise the personnel with the ship and help them grow in confidence with the unfamiliar surroundings.

At an official reception in Dakar, attended by 160 military and diplomatic guests, Cdr Neild added:

“The Royal Navy is at sea every day, working with international partners to provide global maritime security where it is needed.

“The ability to control the seas helps counter illicit activity such as trafficking of people and illegal material, oil bunkering, drug trade, illegal fishing, and piracy.

“Saharan Express serves as an excellent opportunity to work together to enhance maritime security in this vital region of the world and we in HMS Argyll are looking forward to the opportunity to work with you over the next few weeks.”

While alongside the ship also hosted the His Excellency John Marshall, the British Ambassador to Senegal, and a group of workers and their families from the British Embassy who were all given a tour of the ship’s capabilities.

The group, which included a number of children, were impressed with the Operations room, Lynx helicopter, and the firefighting and navigation demonstrations.

Sub-Lieutenant Craig Clark, Officer of the Day, said:

“It has been an excellent opportunity to host the embassy staff on board Argyll and show them what a modern warship is capable of.

“The children were delighted to be able to sit in the Captain’s chair on the bridge and climb onboard the ship’s Lynx helicopter.”

HMS Argyll will now begin the sea phase of Exercise Saharan Express, followed by further operations with West African nations and several high profile visits.

Naval Today Staff, March 14, 2013; Image: Royal Navy