HMS Ramsey joins NATO force

Royal Navy minehunter HMS Ramsey has joined her NATO counterparts in Kiel to practise working together in times of conflict.

The Sandown-class minehunter, usually based in Faslane, arrived in Kiel after first negotiating the famous 98-kilometre canal.

It took nine hours of careful seamanship to complete the canal passage, passing huge container ships such as the Nordic Bremen – three times as long and twice as wide as the Sandown-class minehunter - and carrying more than 1,000 containers. 

The transit gave the two young officers embarked on HMS Ramsey for training – Sub Lieutenants Conor Loudon and Chris Fraser-Shaw – the chance to test their seaman’s eye and ship-handling abilities. Chris described the nine hour transit as "the highlight of his Naval career so far.”

Once in Kiel, the sailors attended the ceremony which saw the German Navy and Commander Martin Schwarz of flagship FGS Donau take charge of the minehunter group – one of two operated by NATO in European waters.

It will be exciting working with our NATO allies and I have a great opportunity to continuously develop my skills as a warfare officer and learn new things

Sub Lieutenant Chris Fraser-Shaw

It is the task of the international group to practise minehunting collectively so they can respond to any crisis as well as to conduct exercises dealing with historic ordnance such as bombs, unexploded torpedoes, shells and mines from the two world wars.

“Mine counter-measures and the ability to counter the mine threat are at the heart of NATO’s maritime operations”, said Commodore Arian Minderhoud, NATO Allied Maritime Command’s Deputy Chief of Staff for Operations.

“Mine warfare operations provide a crucial contribution to each of the maritime tasks as described in NATO’s Alliance Maritime Strategy and are an integral and vital part of all maritime and joint operations.”  

With the formalities over, HMS Ramsey and the NATO group will begin with a series of exercises near Copenhagen. 

“I am really looking forward to the next few months,” said Sub Lt Fraser-Shaw. “It will be exciting working with our NATO allies and I have a great opportunity to continuously develop my skills as a warfare officer and learn new things.  

"It will also be good to see the places which we will visit and the cities where we will stop throughout the trip.”