Minehunters and staff join huge naval exercise

HMS Quorn Picture: PO(Phot) P Punter
HMS Quorn Picture: PO(Phot) P Punter

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MINE warfare experts have headed out to the Gulf with two Portsmouth-based minesweeper ships on an international exercise.

The Mine Warfare Battle Staff, which formed in the city, and HMS Atherstone and HMS Quorn are on the two-week exercise.

The huge naval exercise, called International Mine Countermeasures Exercise 2013, involves personnel from more than 40 countries.

The MWBS staff are based on the Royal Fleet Auxiliary ship Cardigan Bay.

They are in charge of the two city-based minehunters and four other minehunters from foreign navies.

And Portsmouth-based HMS Dragon is also involved, her task being to provide air defence cover to minehunting teams.

The warships, helicopters and defence staff are under the control of Commander Neil Marriott, the commanding officer of the UK Mine Countermeasures Force.

He said: ‘For this exercise I’m the Surface Mine Countermeasures Commander for the Task Force. I’m in command of the surface units, taking charge of the mine counter measures effort using the ships themselves, their organic sensors and divers.’