Royal Navy frigate ends six-month NATO deployment

Royal Navy’s Type 23 frigate HMS Iron Duke is set to return home on July 7 from a six-month deployment working with a multi-national NATO task group in Northern Europe.

The Portsmouth-based ship clocked up more than 22,500 nautical miles, in her 180 days away, working alongside NATO allies as part of the Standing NATO Maritime Group 1 – tasked with providing continuous maritime capability in peacetime and periods of crisis and conflict.

The ship has seen a deployment of two halves with the first spent in the extreme cold and rough seas off Norway and the second in the calm seas of the Baltic.

Through war-fighting exercises, transits and patrols through these regions, the ship has visited 19 ports in 10 different countries.

Along the way the 185 ship’s company has taken part in a number of major NATO exercises including Cold Response, Joint Warrior and Baltops 16.

Baltops is one of the largest and most comprehensive exercises run by NATO with 4,000 personnel from 16 nations taking part with more than 40 ships, submarines and over 60 aircraft. The annual exercise, which is now in its 44th year, is intended to hone the ability of allied and partner nations to work alongside each other.

HMS Iron Duke took on lead role in a task group of enemy forces providing participants a realistic and complex threat to counter as part of the exercise.

The ship also demonstrated the UK’s commitment to NATO and its Baltic allies through a significant amount of defence engagement in the region.

Her Commanding Officer, Commander Ben Aldous, said, “This has been an enormously successful deployment for Iron Duke. My ship’s company has earned themselves an outstanding reputation among our NATO allies.

“I am very proud of what each and every one of my sailors has achieved over the last six-months and they can look forward to some well-deserved time at home.”