HMS Quorn returns to Portsmouth after busy NATO deployment

Portsmouth-based HMS Quorn returned home to Portsmouth today (July 2) after nearly three months deployed on mine-clearance operations in the Baltic Sea.

The Hunt class minehunter has been a part of Standing NATO Mine Countermeasures Group One (SNMCMG1); a taskforce of seven NATO ships assigned to the region to conduct training exercises and clear historic minefields to keep the sea lanes safe for shipping.

The ship officially joined the NATO group in the Clyde estuary, following the group’s participation in Exercise Joint Warrior, from where they departed for the Baltic Sea.

While deployed the ship conducted periods of navigation and seamanship training in the southern Baltic, engaged in live mine disposal in the approaches to Estonia and took part in one of the largest military exercises in the world - BALTOPS 15.

I am extremely proud of what this ship’s company has achieved during this deployment with NATO.

Lieutenant Commander Stuart Yates

Quorn’s Commanding Officer, Lieutenant Commander Stuart Yates, said: “I am extremely proud of what this ship’s company has achieved during this deployment with NATO.

"From exercising with our allies and partners to conducting live mine clearance operations the crew has a huge amount to be proud of. 

"None of it would have been possible without the support of our loved ones back home so it was fabulous seeing them all waiting for us in Portsmouth today.”

A particular highlight for the crew was the period of live operations off the coast of Estonia. This annual event saw Quorn acting as part of an 11 nation mine-hunting group to clear the Baltic Sea of the mines and explosives left following two World Wars. 

It gave the ship’s crew a rare chance to hunt for and remove live ordinance which poses a real danger to shipping today.

Able Seaman (Mine Warfare) Ryan Smout, said: “I’ve been in the Navy for six years and although we train hard for it, this was my first time hunting for real historic mines, it definitely focuses your mind when you are staring into the sonar screen”

The culmination of the deployment saw Quorn supporting BALTOPS 15, alongside Portsmouth-based Type 23 Frigate HMS Iron Duke and the helicopter carrier HMS Ocean, in an annual military exercise hosted by the Commander United States Naval Forces Europe involving 49 ships from 17 NATO and partner nations.

The exercise, which has run since 1971, is a large scale joint exercise with Naval, Land and Air forces that focuses on Maritime and Amphibious operations. It aims to improve maritime security in the Baltic Sea through partnership working and the sharing of resources.

Quorn, along with her Mine Countermeasures partners was tasked with hunting and clearing exercise minefields prior to follow on amphibious landings, whilst defending herself from air and surface attack.

On completion of the exercise HMS Quorn sailed in company with HMS Iron Duke and HMS Ocean to support Kiel Week, the world’s largest sailing event attracting more than three million visitors a year.

HMS Quorn is one of eight Hunt class minehunters which form the Second Mine Countermeasures Squadron based in Portsmouth Naval Base and was commissioned in 1989. 

She has a crew of 44 which includes seven officers and 37 ratings. Her Seafox Mine Disposal system and her team of highly trained divers enable the crew to identify and dispose of a variety of ordinance which may present a threat to sea-users worldwide.