All systems Goa for HMS Monmouth after India visit

Topic: Fighting armsSurface Fleet

The crew of HMS Monmouth honed their fighting skills with the Indian Navy after enjoying a few days in the backpackers’ paradise of Goa.

Approaching the seven-month mark of a nine-month tour of duty east of Suez, focusing on stopping piracy, arms trafficking and drug smuggling as part of the international effort to curb terrorism in the Indian Ocean, the Plymouth-based frigate enjoyed a four-day break.

As well as being one of the ‘must see’ destinations for younger travellers especially, Goa is also a key Indian Naval Base on her west coast.

So after a few days’ rest in the port of Mormugua, allowing crew to let their hair down, the football team to beat an Indian Navy XI 3-2, officers to visit the Naval Academy and the frigate’s Commanding Officer Commander Ian Feasey to meet senior Indian officers, Monmouth put to sea with the frigate INS Gomati.

About the same size as Monmouth, but with 100 more souls on board (over 300 compared with 205 on the British warship), Gomati was invited to join Monmouth for a day of joint manoeuvres and tactics off Goa.

“Although it may often seem like there are just two ships sailing around each other, these manoeuvres provide the best opportunity for the officer of the watch to get comfortable handling ships in close proximity to one another. That’s of paramount importance, especially when handling a ship during a replenishment at sea, for example,” explained HMS Monmouth’s Navigating Officer, Lieutenant Daniel Owen-Hughes.

After the choreography of the two ships ‘dancing’ together in close proximity, the gunnery teams honed their targeting skills by letting rip with the heavy machine-guns and Miniguns (hand-held Gatling guns), typically used for ‘quickdraw’ drills – responding to sudden attacks from fast-attack craft.

“Being part of the upper-deck weapons crew is definitely something I enjoy,” said Able Seaman (Warfare Specialist) James Kenyon.

“It’s not every day that someone can get to fire a weapon such as the heavy machine-gun. But it is still a challenging role with the amount of training that goes in to ensure we all remain ready to react to any threat at any time.”

With firings complete, it was the turn of the embarked Royal Marines boarding team – embarked on HMS Monmouth to secure and search suspicious vessels encountered on security patrols – used the Gomati for a practice mission.

The boarding exercise was designed to test both the ships’ boarding teams in disembarking ‘mother’ and embarking a vessel of interest in a short space of time; while the Royal Marines were boarding the Gomati, their Indian counterparts were doing exactly the same aboard Monmouth.

“The opportunity to exercise a number of the unique abilities that the boarding team has to offer, particularly under the close scrutiny of another nation, was testing yet thoroughly rewarding,” said Lieutenant Seb Chaffe RM, in charge of the commandos on Monmouth.

“The Royal Marines have founded a close relationship with the Indian Marine Commandos in recent years and it’s been a privilege to extend that relationship to the wider Indian Navy.”

The busy day finished with Monmouth’s Lynx helicopter launched so the joint exercise could be recorded for posterity by photographer Leading Seaman Dan Rosenbaum before the two vessels parted company, heading off their separate ways with an ever stronger growing bond between both Nations.  

Commander Ian Feasey said,  “My ship and ship’s company have been superbly hosted by the Indian Navy, we’ve had the chance to build on the already-close relationship and ongoing engagement between our two navies.

“Most of the ship’s company have not had the opportunity to visit India before and everyone enjoyed what this historic part of the country had to offer.”

HMS Monmouth has now resumed her anti-terrorism patrol in the Indian Ocean. She’s due to return to Plymouth before Christmas.

My ship and ship’s company have been superbly hosted by the Indian Navy, we’ve had the chance to build on the already-close relationship and ongoing engagement between our two navies

Commander Ian Feasey, Commanding Officer of HMS Monmouth