Minehunter HMS Ledbury trains with British Army in Bahrain

Sailors of HMS Ledbury and British Army soldiers have completed rigorous training on how to defend the ship from threats while alongside.

Measures to safeguard British military assets – known as ‘force protection’ – are well-established, but this training was necessary so the Royal Navy and Army can work together seamlessly to respond to attacks.

Minehunter Ledbury is stationed in Bahrain, at the UK Naval Support Facility, where 2nd Mercian Regiment are responsible for the procedures to counter attacks on the base, those deployed there and the ships in port.

Ledbury’s crew worked with Platoon 1 to test a range of force protection skills, including a simulated intruder scenario and an attack by a drone on the ship, which caused a ‘fire and multiple casualties’ on board.

The aim of the two-day exercise was to ensure the Army element was up-to-date with how the sailors respond if the ship were to be under threat while alongside.
It was the most advanced and complex training of its kind to date.

Petty Officer Daniel Horne, who crafted the exercises with the Army’s Lieutenant Guy Nicholson, said: “Learning how to work together with the Army to achieve maximum effectiveness and security is not a skill a mine counter measure vessel (MCMV) crew practice regularly. But on a base in an operational environment, where they are the ones protecting our ships, that skill and information is vital.

“I hope this exercise makes the start of increased integration between the Army and Royal Navy.”

We should look for every opportunity to refine our skills and learn from each other to ensure the greatest chance of collective success

Lieutenant Commander Matt Ellicott, HMS Ledbury’s commanding officer

Day one gave soldiers the chance to familiarise themselves with the ship and the procedures in response to a threat or damage to the ship.

The next day saw the scenario unfold.

It started with the discovery on an IED on the jetty. The device was cordoned off and secured by 1 Platoon while HMS Ledbury’s force protection teams kept watch.

Meanwhile, a suspected intruder was located within the base perimeter (a role played by a mine clearance diver). He was quickly apprehended by 1 Platoon before a second intruder was suspected to have got on board Ledbury.

To ensure their capture, the ship’s force protection teams joined the soldiers in swiftly clearing all compartments on board.

The situation was then complicated further with a simulated drone attack on the minehunter, causing a fire and multiple casualties.

While the casualties were treated and moved to safety, the ship’s company geared up to fight the fictional fire.

HMS Ledbury’s commanding officer, Lieutenant Commander Matt Ellicott, added: “Joint operations is very much routine business, particularly within the Gulf. We should look for every opportunity to refine our skills and learn from each other to ensure the greatest chance of collective success – this exercise is very much at the heart of that intent.”