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Protecting our Nation's Interests

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Northumberland trades places with Sutherland in fight against piracy

Northumberland trades places with Sutherland in fight against piracy

26/11/2012

There’s a change of lands in the Indian Ocean as HMS Sutherland has been replaced by her sister Northumberland – as Britain’s constant effort to choke pirates, smugglers and other criminal activity continues. The Fighting Clan is homeward bound for Devonport in time for Christmas after five months east of Suez supporting the international effort to keep the sea lanes open – a duty now performed by Northumberland.

The huge variety and diversity of task, that Sutherland has fulfilled whilst on operations illustrates the inherent flexibility of the Royal Navy in protecting and promoting UK interests worldwide, whether it is preventing piracy or terrorism at sea or strengthening bonds with regional allies.
Commander Al Wilson

The crew of HMS Sutherland let their hair down in time-honoured Royal Navy fashion (blasts from fire hoses, jumping up and down excitedly, waving arms, hurling projectiles and other tomfoolery) as they turn for home – and hand over pirate-busting duties to their colleagues in HMS Northumberland.

The two Type 23 frigates met up briefly in the Red Sea allowing a meeting of minds – the command team from Sutherland visited Northumberland via Merlin helicopter to pass on their experiences – followed by a little fun.

The Fighting Clan has worked tirelessly for the last five months as part of the Combined Maritime Forces ensuring the sea lanes and waters of the Middle East and Indian Ocean are safe for seafarers to conduct their daily business.

With Sutherland’s duties complete East of Suez she has handed over the role of protecting Britain’s interests in the region to her sister (and fellow Devonport native) Northumberland.

During her time on patrol Sutherland has conducted boarding operations on suspect vessels and also reassurance visits to build relationships with mariners and obtain information on pattern of life in the area.

In addition the ship has carried out various security patrols and has also participated in numerous exercises with coalition and allied forces in the region to strengthen ties and improve interoperability.

Speaking about the deployment, HMS Sutherland’s Commanding Officer Commander Al Wilson said:

“The huge variety and diversity of task, that Sutherland has fulfilled whilst on operations illustrates the inherent flexibility of the Royal Navy in protecting and promoting UK interests worldwide, whether it is preventing piracy or terrorism at sea or strengthening bonds with regional allies.

“However, I could not of achieved this without an efficient, capable and highly motivated ship’s company and, as always, I am highly proud of what my team has achieved over the past six months whilst remaining cheerful and utterly professional throughout.”

His counterpart on Northumberland’s, Cdr Paddy Dowsett, added:

“Today is the culmination of our preparations since emerging from refit in September 2011.

“With weapons and boarding team training now complete, my ship's company are ready and eager to get going on this demanding and essential mission, and they are all committed to it being a success.”

Barely had the fire hoses stopped dripping and the shenanigans died down than normal business resumed and Northumberland’s Merlin was delivering supplies to her flight deck.

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