VIDEO: HMS Westminster Sets Sail for Cougar ’13 (UK)

HMS Westminster Sets Sail for Cougar ’13

Royal Navy warship HMS Westminster sailed from Portsmouth on August 13 as part of the Cougar ’13 deployment to the Mediterranean and Gulf which involves thousands of RN, Royal Marines and Royal Fleet Auxiliary personnel.

The long-planned deployment will see elements of the UK’s Response Force Task Group (RFTG) – the naval force formed under the 2010 Strategic Defence and Security Review – hone its world-class maritime skills thousands of miles from home through exercises with a number of key allies.

HMS Westminster, a Type 23 frigate, is among ten RN and RFA ships taking part in Cougar ’13, including helicopter carrier HMS Illustrious which sailed from Portsmouth on 12 of August.

On completion of the exercise Westminster will deploy to the Middle East and Indian Ocean as part of the RN’s standing commitment in the region.

She will provide reassurance to the UK’s allies in the region, conducting maritime exercises with other nations and carrying out maritime security and counter-piracy patrols.

She will also be ready to react to situations such as humanitarian aid and war-fighting as directed by the UK Government.

 Her Commanding Officer, Captain Hugh Beard, said:

 “It has taken a tremendous effort to get us ready and it is with immense pride that we sail from Portsmouth for the challenges of operations in the Middle East.”

HMS Westminster will be operating in familiar territory – she spent several months in the region last year and hit the headlines after a £14m drugs bust in the Indian Ocean.

Operations Officer Lieutenant Commander Simon Tappin is among many of her 170 ship’s company making the return trip.

He said:

 “The ship’s company are very experienced and capable and will carry forward this confidence into our current mission to make it a success.”

Press Release, August 14, 2013; Image: Royal Navy