UK: Sailors from HMS Cattistock Ready for Gulf Mission
- Training & Education
Ready to head out to the Gulf shortly to take over one of their two sister ships are the crew of Portsmouth minehunter HMS Cattistock.
The 45 sailors aboard the Hunt-class ship came through their two final major assessments with flying colours, first testing the ability of the small 750-tonne warship to deal with all eventualities on her own – then testing her ability to do the same in a larger group of warships.
Cattistock left behind the waters of the Solent she knows so well and decamped to Scotland for two months.
Faslane is home to FOST North – the exacting training organisation which determines whether a ship is ready for the rigours of deployment courtesy of Operational Sea Training.
Cattistock’s bridge team were tested in their ability to safely navigate and conduct pilotage in testing conditions both simulated and real world.
The marine engineers and executive department achieved a particularly high standard owing to experience and hard work, while the Seafox mine disposal system was launched and recovered on a record number of occasions.
“The rigorous training package put high demands on the ‘Catt’ and her crew and at times serials did not run smoothly,”
said Commanding Officer Lt Cdr Andy Smith.
“However over the period the crew developed their skills as individuals and as a team came together to achieve high standards across the board.”
For their efforts they received a ‘very satisfactory’ overall score from the FOST team (‘satisfactory’ is a pass – and the most common ‘mark’ given by the assessors).
Fresh out of OST and after a period of sonar trials, the ship was thrown into the demanding Joint Warrior exercise to help the fictitious embattled nation of Pastonia, which was ravaged by civil war.
Once again Seafox was used repeatedly, with the remotely-controlled submersible diving to depths of 60m in order to recover mines as well, while the ship was also called upon to lead a task force through a suspected minefield.
Throughout Joint Warrior, members of the Royal Naval Reserve were embarked across the fleet with LS(MW) Anthony Peacock joining Cattistock. He’s a software test analyst by day and hadn’t been to sea since 2002, when minehunters were still minesweepers, he said,
“It was really great to get up to speed with the modern methods of mine hunting and put into practice all the weekends and evenings that I have spent training with the RNR.”
With the two training exercises completed, Cattistock has returned to Portsmouth while her crew carry out final preparations for their Gulf deployment.
The Royal Navy maintains four minehunters in Bahrain permanently: two Hunts (experts in locating mines in deep water) HMS Quorn and Atherstone; and two Sandowns (designed to find mines in shallow seas) HMS Shoreham and Ramsey.
To maintain that long-term presence, crew rotate every six or seven months; the crew Cattistock’s current ship’s company replace will take over the ship on their return to the UK.
Press Release, November 14, 2013; Image: Royal Navy