RFA Cardigan Bay deploys on operations

After a long and arduous spring full of maintenance and training, RFA Cardigan Bay has deployed to the Gulf on operations.

The Royal Fleet Auxiliary ship and her 110 strong crew of seafarers and embarked forces sailed from Portland Port after four weeks of Operational Sea Training (OST) and a swift stock up of essential equipment, ammunition and stores.

During OST, seafarers faced simulated fires, floods and casualties amongst a simulated bombardment by real aircraft and surface vessels, flying and sailing in close proximity to the vessel.

These included the Royal Navy’s Falcon and Hawk jets punching holes into the hull with their armament of bombs and missiles and Royal Marine RHIB craft, manned by crews firing onto the upper decks with machine guns and RPGs – all simulations of course!

These very realistic exercises have sharpened the crew’s reactions and ensure the ship can respond swiftly to any operational situation.

“After the trials and tribulations of the last few months, I am very proud that we have risen to every challenge and have now successfully deployed. I have every confidence that with the dedication, devotion and determination I have witnessed throughout the ship, this will be a hugely successful deployment with the high standards of operational support the RFA is world renowned for providing,” said Deck Officer, 3/O (X) Callum McArdell.

Our focus is now on the delivery of Maritime Operational Support to the Royal Navy and our Coalition Partners in our assigned theatre of operations

Captain J MacAnley RFA, Commanding Officer of RFA Cardigan Bay

The vessel has exercised with Royal Navy vessels and also those from the German and Dutch fleets, using their frigates and destroyers adorned with a multitude of weapon systems to detect and eliminate airborne, surface and sub-surface threats.

RFA Cardigan Bay herself is armed with a range of self defence weapon systems, including the two imposing Phalanx CIWS mounts, 30mm cannons, miniguns and GPMGs.

Training included the operation of aircraft including Merlins, Dauphins and the new Wildcat Maritime Attack Helicopter and also the opportunity to flood the ships’ dock and receive landing craft through her rear door; both essential familiarisation exercises for the crew and embarked forces.

This training ensures Cardigan Bay is now ready to be utilised in her role as a Landing Ship Dock (Auxiliary) which involves transporting troops and their equipment around the globe then enabling them to deploy ashore by either landing craft or helicopter.

Cardigan Bay’s Commanding Officer, Captain J MacAnley RFA, said, “I am immensely proud of the achievement of my Ship’s Company in completing Operational Sea Training to a high standard. Our focus is now on the delivery of Maritime Operational Support to the Royal Navy and our Coalition Partners in our assigned theatre of operations. Cardigan Bay is a fine ship, manned by professional personnel, well set to contend with the rigours of our tasking.”

Maintaining the posture developed in training will be all the more important now as the ship begins a transit through the Mediterranean and Suez Canal, to her eventual destination as an operational RFA in the Gulf.