Jordanian officer reunited with ‘old friend’ HMS Penzance

A dozen years after he learned the art of command aboard minehunter HMS Penzance in Scotland, Mohannad Alnamat revisited her – now operating in the Gulf.

Back in 2008 Commander Alnamat, who serves with the Royal Jordanian Navy, joined the Sandown-class ship in her native Faslane – one of several international students on a small-ship command course.

Alongside officers from Iraq, Trinidad and Tobago, Nigeria, Oman and Sierra Leone he was treated to intense Royal Navy instruction – and weather conditions he’d never before encountered.

“Sailing from Scotland in the winter was a new experience for me,” said Commander Alnamat. “It was cold and wet, and I had never seen fog at sea before!

“HMS Penzance will always be a special ship to me. Whenever I find myself in London, I like to spot the trains travelling to Penzance. I always smile with the fond memories.”

HMS Penzance will always be a special ship to me. Whenever I find myself in London, I like to spot the trains travelling to Penzance. I always smile with the fond memories

Cdr Mohannad Alnamat, Royal Jordanian Navy

Fast-forward a dozen years and the one-time sub lieutenant is now a commander on the staff of the international Combined Maritime Forces which directs the peacekeeping missions of coalition warships from Suez to the Seychelles from its headquarters in Bahrain.

And Penzance is one of four Royal Navy minehunters on a three-year deployment to the Middle East as part of the UK’s long-standing commitment to peace and security in the region.

She’s now commanded by an old shipmate – Lieutenant Commander Graeme Hazelwood – with whom the Jordanian officer passed out of Britannia Royal Naval College in 2007.

“It was a great opportunity to see Mohannad again today after all this time,” said Lieutenant Commander Hazelwood. “Reconnecting and engaging with our international partners who we train and work alongside is one of the bonuses that comes with deploying overseas.”

Commander Alnamat added: “Returning to HMS Penzance was an honour. Being part of multi-national coalitions like the Combined Maritime Forces means there are always new opportunities to work alongside our partners – even better when you get to work alongside old friends!”