Minehunters trade places as Bangor and Middleton take over Gulf duties from their sisters

Topic: Fighting armsSurface Fleet Storyline: HMS Bangor

The role of gatekeeper for the vital shipping lanes in the Gulf region has passed from two Royal Navy minehunters to their sisters as one three-year mission ends and another begins.

Crews of HMS Shoreham and Brocklesby handed over the baton to sister ships HMS Bangor and Middleton respectively.

All four vessels linked up in the Saudi Red Sea port of Jeddah to swap lessons, equipment and tips for operating in the harsh Middle East environment, before parting.

Shoreham and Brocklesby are continuing home in company before separating in the Atlantic as the former heads to Faslane and the latter makes for Portsmouth, returning in early October.

Each ship has spent a good three years operating out of Bahrain, working with allies and partners in the region to keep sea lanes open and remain at the cutting-edge of mine warfare in challenging conditions, visiting countries as far afield as Kuwait and Djibouti, and Oman and Egypt.

HMS Shoreham mine warfare specialist Able Seaman Cross said: “We are really looking forward to the next stage of the journey. We have enjoyed being in the Gulf, and visiting other ports on the way home adds to the adventure.”

Although Bangor and Middleton are nearly at the foot of the Red Sea, the pair still have a good 2,800 miles to go to reach their future home as they sail around the Arabian Peninsula and into the Gulf.

“The sail out has given a great opportunity for the ship’s company to enjoy the delights of the Mediterranean, but as we’ve handed over we shift our focus to operations and continuing the great work that both Shoreham and Brocklesby have done,” said Lieutenant Commander Rob Couzens, Bangor’s Commanding Officer.

 

“My crew is looking forward to forming part of the continuous mine countermeasures presence in the region – and are very much ready to do so.”

The two incoming ships also bring with them upgraded minehunting equipment, known as Orca, which provides greater situational awareness when working in the underwater environment to keep sea lanes safe.

They are also the latest vessels to employ the new working routine for crews: four months in the Gulf, four months back home on leave/courses/training. Splitting time equally between the UK and Bahrain will provide the crews with greater stability for their families, whilst allowing them to build and maintain their experience in the region.

“This is the first time I’ve been on a deployment in the Royal Navy,” said mine warfare specialist Able Seaman Burrows from HMS Bangor.

“We’ve had some great times ashore across the Mediterranean; the beaches and bars in Crete were a great reward for a lot of hard work on the deployment so far.

“The Middle East is a very different environment to what I’m used to but I’m looking forward to seeing some new places along the way.”

In Bahrain, the new arrivals will link up with HMS Chiddingfold and Penzance, plus support/command ship RFA Lyme Bay and frigate HMS Montrose.

 

The sail out has given a great opportunity for the ship’s company to enjoy the delights of the Mediterranean, but as we’ve handed over we shift our focus to operations and continuing the great work that both Shoreham and Brocklesby have done.

Lieutenant Commander Rob Couzens