RFA Mounts Bay joins operation Sophia

Royal Fleet Auxiliary ship RFA Mounts Bay has returned to her Mediterranean Sea duties and joined the EU mission Sophia.

The Royal Fleet Auxiliary takes over from Type 45 destroyer HMS Diamond, who carried out the role for two months while Mounts Bay underwent planned maintenance, as well as playing a role in a joint maritime exercise Albanian Lion earlier this month.

Diamond has conducted wide-area maritime surveillance to establish operating patterns in the area and then, when appropriate, boarded vessels suspected of supporting the illegal importation of weapons and ammunition.

This forms part of Operation Sophia, focused on tackling human smugglers and arms traffickers who endanger the lives of migrants who seek to travel to Europe.

Mounts Bay’s role will remain tackling the movement of arms, and she will provide a picture-building capability to help enforce the UN Security Council Resolution prohibiting the trafficking of arms to Libya.

During her two months in the role, Diamond deployed combined Royal Navy and Royal Marine boarding teams, and her Wildcat helicopter provided critical over watch; the first time the helicopter has been utilised in a live operation from a Type 45.

Commander Marcus Hember, commanding officer of HMS Diamond, said: “Diamond has made an important contribution to the effort in the Mediterranean, showing that the Royal Navy continues to commit to important tasks in support of UK interests.”