HMS Enterprise returns home after year-long NATO mission

Topic: Fighting armsSurface Fleet

After over a year away in the Mediterranean as NATO Flagship to an International Force of Minehunters, HMS Enterprise has returned home to Devonport in Plymouth.

Having handed over to the German Navy, the Standing NATO Mine Countermeasures Group 2 - SNMCMG2 for short is one of four continuously deployed task groups which comprise NATO’s Response Forces.

Working primarily in the Eastern Mediterranean and the Black Sea, they were responsible for providing a high readiness MCM capability.

For 365 days HMS Enterprise flew the flag for NATO through the Mediterranean and Black Seas, training with the region’s navies – not just in the art of hunting mines, but disaster relief and search and rescue missions – and honing the ability of participating NATO forces to work seamlessly together.

With a NATO battle staff embarked, HMS Enterprise directed six major exercises, visited 40 ports, helped locate four WW2-era mines, worked with scientists to further the use of unmanned technology in finding objects underwater, and worked with around a dozen NATO and foreign navies.

“This has been a thoroughly enjoyable and professionally rewarding deployment. We have spent a year and a day assigned to NATO,” said Commander Phil Harper, Commanding Officer HMS Enterprise.

“We’ve visited every European country with a Mediterranean or Black Sea coast and exercised with nearly every NATO nation. Some of the crew even made it to Batumi in Georgia in support of NATO. 

"This has been a deployment of a lifetime and however hard it’s been, over the past year, it has been our families that have kept us going. We are very much looking forward to seeing them on the jetty when we finally get home!”

The demands placed on the ship’s company throughout have been heavy.

“Before we deployed, colleagues predicted a fantastic sunny Mediterranean ‘cruise’, but that couldn’t be further from the truth,” said Surgeon Lieutenant Megan Adams, Task Force Medical Officer.

“Hard work and dedication was required by everyone involved – busy weeks at sea, in rough weather over the winter, and even busier weekends alongside. Everyone was pushed to their limits.”

AB Chelsea Dyson, one of HMS Enterprise’s chefs has thoroughly enjoyed the NATO experience. “I’ve been lucky to be involved with every defence engagement event over the past year – it’s been a great opportunity for me to develop my culinary skills.

"It’s been a great deployment too for seeing new places – places that I would never normally have had the chance to experience.”

We’ve visited every European country with a Mediterranean or Black Sea coast and exercised with nearly every NATO nation

Commander Phil Harper, Commanding Officer of HMS Enterprise