Cattistock crew ready for Gulf mission after intense spring of training

Posing on the fo'c'sle of HMS Cattistock off the Isle of Wight, 2nd Mine Countermeasures Squadron Crew 4 soak up the sun - having completed training which prepares them for six months in the Gulf.

Forty-one of the 46 souls aboard posed for the group shot (four sailors were left in charge of the Hunt… and one was behind the camera) as a memento of hard but enjoyable times around the UK, culminating in nine weeks of intensive instruction and exercises off north-west Scotland.

Cattistock came through four weeks of Operational Sea Training, which determines whether a crew is fit to deploy on the front line, and stepped up to the next level of assessment - the ability to work as part of a task group - during the first of 2017's fortnight-long Joint Warrior war games.

Crew faced fires, floods and casualties - and close contact with the enemy in a realistic and escalating exercise scenario, while still continuing their core role of minehunting. The involvement of real aircraft and surface vessels, rather than the simulator, added to the realism in sharpening the crews' responses.

I am immensely proud of what we have achieved - we are now a close-knit team whose focus is ensuring that we maintain this posture following some well-deserved time at home with our families before we deploy to the Gulf.

Lieutenant Commander Anthony Pimm, Commanding Officer

For the mine warfare specialists, the highlight was the chance to conduct live firings of the Seafox remote mine disposal vehicle and diver-placed charges on dummy mines found by Cattistock's sonar operators.

With the assessors satiated, Cattistock headed back for her home base of Portsmouth where the crew will spend the next month readying the ship for her next occupants, grabbing some leave and preparing to fly out to Bahrain to take charge of her sister vessel HMS Middleton as part of the latest rotation of mine warfare crews maintaining the Royal Navy’s four-strong minehunting force permanently stationed in the Gulf.

"My crew performed brilliantly during a very intense period of training - reflected in their growth in confidence, their professional abilities and their overall output," said Commanding Officer Lieutenant Commander Anthony Pimm.

"I am immensely proud of what we have achieved - we are now a close-knit team whose focus is ensuring that we maintain this posture following some well-deserved time at home with our families before we deploy to the Gulf."