WHILE their friends and family back home are scraping ice off their cars, sailors on board one warship are battling the heat.
The new ship’s company of HMS Atherstone have now flown to the Gulf to begin their seven-month deployment to the region.
The Royal Navy’s mine countermeasures vessels are permanently based in the Gulf, returning to Portsmouth only every few years.
It means sailors are flown out to the region to take over the ships, in place of the traditional deployments and homecomings seen in the city.
Not wasting any time, the sailors jumped straight in to a joint exercise with other Royal Navy and US Navy Mine Countermeasures Vessels (MCMVs).
Lieutenant Commander Andy Smith, the ship’s commanding officer, said: ‘HMS Atherstone’s participation in the joint exercise just one week after the crew’s arrival in the Gulf was a real test.
‘Nevertheless, the crew showed their readiness to step up to the plate and operated effectively with both fellow Royal Navy and US Navy MCMVs.
‘The conditions in the Gulf present some of the most testing in the world for mine countermeasure operations.
‘By developing our techniques and procedures across a broad environmental spectrum and by co-operating with our allies in the region we can be sure we’re ready to protect our nation’s interest, anywhere, any time.’
The exercise tested the crew’s abilities to work with allies in the Gulf.
The 43 sailors of the Second Mine Countermeasures Squadron Crew 2 flew to Bahrain and had to quickly familiarise themselves with the ship and the hot conditions of the Gulf.
They spent the holidays alongside, and on Christmas Day opted for a barbecue in the Gulf’s warm conditions instead of a traditional roast.
HMS Atherstone is one of four MCMVs permanently deployed to the Gulf.
Her crew will remain there for seven months, conducting routine survey operations, and a number of exercises.
Using high-definition sonar, they hunt the seabeds for mines and lost explosives, and destroy them using clearance divers or a mine disposal system.