HMS Westminster’s Crew Hone Their Boarding Skills with Saudi Arabian Navy
Royal Navy warship HMS Westminster has been putting her boarding teams through their paces as part of exercise Red Alligator, an international exercise with the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia (KSA).
The Portsmouth-based frigate is working as part of the Cougar 13 Task Group before she continues on her way to fulfil the Royal Navy’s standing commitment to maritime security in the Middle East and Indian Ocean.
With the KSA Warship Makkah acting as a suspect vessel with ‘pirates’ on board, it was down to Westminster’s contingent of Royal Marine Boarding Team otherwise known as the ‘Green Team’ to demonstrate their techniques in boarding, crew restraint and handling.
With the ship secured it gave the ship’s Royal Navy Boarding team, the ‘Blue Team’ the chance to practice their information exploitation and searching skills.
Looking high and low for illicit cargo in hot and humid conditions, the Blue Team demonstrated their searching skills to the Makkah’s own Boarding Team. Led by Lieutenant Glen Kerrigan they were able to use their specialist search skills to find cunningly hidden homemade explosive devices in the ship.
Lt Kerrigan said:
”Working with our KSA allies has greatly benefited both nations from a training and cultural perspective. It has set us up well for future boarding operations in the region.”
HMS Westminster is operating in the Red Sea and Gulf of Aden as part of the Royal Navy’s Response Force Task Group (RFTG).
This is the UK’s high readiness maritime force, comprising ships, submarines, aircraft and a landing force of Royal Marines, who stand at short notice to act in response to any contingency tasking if required by government.
Currently on their annual four-month deployment – Cougar 13 – the four Royal Navy warships and five Royal Fleet Auxiliary ships are working in the Mediterranean, Red Sea, the Gulf, and Horn of Africa.
Cougar 13 involves exercising with partner nations, and will show the UK Armed Forces’ capacity to project an effective maritime component anywhere in the world.
As well as HMS Westminster there are three other Royal Navy ships – HMS Bulwark, HMS Illustrious and HMS Montrose taking part, supported by five Royal Fleet Auxiliary vessels.
Press Release, September 26, 2013; Image: Royal Navy