HMS Shoreham’s crew complete Gulf mission

A busy eight-month deployment in the Gulf is complete for the ship’s company of HMS Shoreham.

MCM1 Crew 4 are now back in the UK after handing over the reins of the Sandown-class minehunter to Faslane-based MCM1 Crew 5.

The Crew 4 sailors have been in the Gulf, based out of the Royal Navy’s permanent operating base in Bahrain since before Christmas.

The final three months on board for Crew 4 were jam-packed, from time alongside for crucial maintenance to helping a US Navy warship, which was having issues.

One of the biggest jobs of their maintenance period was the removal of Shoreham’s anchors and cables in preparation for an inspection. This involved many hours of work down in the hot bow, easing a heavy cable out of its locker.

On completion, as per tradition and to ensure safety, the navigator confirmed the anchors had been reattached correctly.

Sub-Lieutenant Harry Long said: “The junior rates have performed excellently doing hard and exhausting work in temperatures topping 40C. My part at the end really is the easy bit.”

On completion of the maintenance, Crew 4 got their sea legs back in June, spending periods at sea conducting unit level training. This included gunnery, honing the skills of the aimers and operators of the ship’s main gun - the 30mm. A period of successful firing took place with aimers ensuring they had their eyes on target.

During this same period of training, HMS Shoreham was called upon to assist the US Navy when a warship had fouled her props on discarded fishing nets and could not free them.

Shoreham did a 140-mile round trip to assist. Once on the scene, the ship’s divers spent three hours underwater cutting the nets free and allowing the US ship to continue on operations.

“It was a really rewarding task as we got to put our training into practice and make a real difference,” said AB(D) Blundell, who spent over an hour underwater.

At the end of June, the minehunter returned to doing her primary tasking; mine survey routines. The ship spent a week doing route survey to ensure sea lanes in the area were free from any hazards or obstructions.

This involved numerous launches of its mine disposal system Sea Fox to investigate any suspicious contacts on the seabed.

During their last full month in the Gulf, and while continuing to conduct operations to fulfil the UK’s national tasking, focus shifted to ensuring the ship was ready to hand over. An intense period of cleaning and routine maintenance took place, including everything from polishing the binnacle to clearing out mess drawers.

The effort of the ship’s company bore fruit as the inspection was passed with flying colours.

With Crew 5 now taking over Shoreham, Crew 4 has returned home for some much-needed post-operational leave. They will return to operations later in the year when the crew take over HMS Pembroke.

It was a really rewarding task as we got to put our training into practice and make a real difference

AB(D) Blundell, HMS Shoreham diver