RFA Cardigan Bay adds US patrol boats to her family

Gulf-based mother ship RFA Cardigan Bay took some fresh ducklings under her wing when she practised with US patrol boats for the first time.

The auxiliary, which acts as a floating command ship and support vessel for the Royal Navy’s four Bahrain-based minehunters, ‘rafted up’ with two Mark VI Patrol Boats at her home in Mina Salman port.

The manoeuvre – well-honed with British and US minehunter crews, who frequently bring their ships alongside Cardigan Bay to take on board fuel and other supplies to sustain operations in the Gulf – saw two American crews bring their craft safely alongside the much larger Royal Fleet Auxiliary vessel.

The ten-strong crews of boats 1201 and 1204 carefully – and successfully – manoeuvred their craft into position several times, ready for the RFA crews to cast lines down, providing excellent training for both the Brits and Americans, and especially the patrol boat coxswains.

The US Navy’s 3rd Coastal Riverine Squadron operates four Mark Vis in Bahrain for numerous duties including launching/recovering surveillance drones, force protection missions – the 45kt craft carry a mixture of automated and hand-operated machine-guns – and board-and-search missions. They can also be adapted for minehunting duties.