UK Ships Meet in Horn of Africa
Type 23 frigate HMS Montrose, a Scottish ship in heart and soul, recently met up with her Welsh counterpart, HMS Dragon, in the warm waters off the Horn of Africa.
HMS Montrose is on her way to take over as the Royal Navy’s guardian of the Gulf, a role that HMS Dragon had been carrying out for the last few months.
The crew of the two ships took the opportunity to exchange information and stores, vital to ensure a successful deployment for Montrose, just as Dragon benefited from similar advice from her Celtic cousin HMS Monmouth five months ago.
Miles off the east African coast Montrose’s Lynx helicopter transferred equipment between the ships and allowed vital face to face meetings to take place, enabling the Commanding Officers the opportunity to discuss the challenges that the ship will face over the coming months.
Commander James Parkin, Commanding Officer of HMS Montrose, said:
“This meeting at sea shows that thousands of miles from home in international waterways, UK ships maintain the ability to interact with one another and maintain a sustainable presence in some of the most challenging areas of the world.
“This meeting of two of the UK’s most powerful warships sends a message to our friends in the region that the UK is prepared to honour our commitment to maintain peace and stability.”
Captain Iain Lower, Commanding Officer of Dragon, added:
“The last five months have been both challenging and rewarding in equal measure.
“As we pass the baton of maintaining our enduring presence in the Gulf region we do so having achieved much to advance our understanding of the formidable Type 45 Destroyer, particularly when operating in company with Aircraft Carriers and other Air Defenders.
“I wish HMS Montrose every success on operations over the next six months and in cementing relations with our Gulf partners.”
Montrose will now continue her passage east and ensure the safe passage of merchant shipping throughout the region vital to the United Kingdom.
Over three million barrels of oil pass through the Bab al-Mandeb Straits alone each day, and the Royal Navy performs a vital role in securing this and other waterways in the region to safeguard supplies of energy to the British economy.
With her previous deployment having taken her to the cool waters of the South Atlantic, Montrose has been training hard over the last year to prepare the ship for the different challenges in the heat of the Gulf.
Their training has covered a variety of different duties from boarding operations on suspect vessels, to building relationships with local mariners and monitoring the pattern of life throughout the area.
Lieutenant Joseph Sharples, HMS Montrose’s lynx helicopter pilot, said:
“After all the training and exercises we have conducted, the ship feels fully prepared to deal with any challenges that we might be presented with over the coming months.
“It will of course be difficult being away from loved ones over Christmas and the New Year but everybody on board recognises the vital role we are playing in protecting UK interests and forging diplomatic ties in the region.”
Press Release, September 20, 2013; Image: Royal Navy