HMS Montrose Sailors Earn Libya Medal

HMS Montrose Sailors Earn Libya Medal

Back in 2011, a total of 16 warships, submarines and Royal Fleet Auxiliary vessels supported humanitarian, embargo and combat operations off the coast of Libya, either under NATO’s Operation Unified Protector or the UK’s Operation Ellamy. These included elements of the Royal Navy’s Response Force Task Group (or RFTG) – the UK’s military quick reaction force – who were deployed at the time on the Cougar 11 deployment, many of which saw a 5 week deployment turn into a 5 month one.

Today, as HMS Montrose prepares to join the RFTG, and sail as part of the Cougar 13 deployment, the current Commander of the RFTG, Commodore Paddy McAlpine OBE ADC Royal Navy, visited HMS Montrose to present campaign medals to 5 members of the Ship’s Company who served in that conflict.

With the sailors ranging in rank from Able Seaman to Lieutenant, across all the branches of the ship, Commodore McAlpine had the opportunity to hear their stories of their time conducting operations off Libya, and pass on his explanation of the forthcoming RFTG deployment, of which HMS Montrose will be part.

Lt Dan Sercombe, currently the CBO in Montrose but at the time a Young Officer in HMS Ocean, said,

“it was a great honour to be presented with my first medal by COMUKTG himself, and I was really interested to hear about the plans for Cougar 13.”

Petty Officer (Catering Services) Gavin ‘Buster’ Brown, who was a Leading Chef in HMS Brocklesby when that ship was conducting mine clearance operations very close inshore, echoed these sentiments:

Everyone in Brocklesby was very proud to have contributed so much to the operations off Misratah, and I am delighted to receive recognition of my time there; I shall wear my medal with pride.”

The other three Montrose sailors who received medals today, Leading Engineering Technician (Weapon Engineer) Alexander Chinn, Leading Seaman (Seaman) Craig Taylor, and Able Seaman (Seaman) James Smith, all were serving in HMS Cumberland when – on her way back from a deployment to the Middle East – she was diverted into the port of Benghazi to evacuate civilians from the fighting, a mission codenamed Operation Deference.

Commander James Parkin, the Commanding Officer, said:

“Operation Ellamy is a classic example of how quickly naval forces can react to swiftly changing strategic circumstances, and how every type of RN unit has a role to play in such operations.

“I was delighted that Commodore McAlpine was able to personally present the Libya medals to my sailors who served in that campaign two years ago, as it reminds my Ship’s Company that the RFTG, of which we are about to become a part, really is the ‘go to’ force to protect our nation’s interests wherever and whenever it is required; I am proud of them all.”

Press Release, June 27, 2013; Image: Royal Navy