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Southsea sailor joins foreign navies for boarding in the Baltic Sea

PO Tom Coogans and his team practising boarding drills on their ship Picture: PO(Phot) Si Ethell

PO Tom Coogans and his team practising boarding drills on their ship Picture: PO(Phot) Si Ethell

 

Rifles raised, these sailors are practising their boarding drills as part of one of the largest multinational naval exercises in the world.

The exercise, named Baltops, has brought together 30 warships and 52 aircraft from 14 different nations in the Baltic Sea.

Petty Officer Tom Coogans, 28, from Southsea, is taking part in the operation from on board Plymouth-based HMS Montrose.

He said: ‘An exercise like Baltops is a great opportunity for my team to learn and ensure our systems are interoperable with our foreign colleagues.

‘On top of that, Baltops also gives us the opportunity to show off our ship and the Royal Navy.

PO Coogans is the ship’s communication specialist.

He has a team of 10 who are kept busy looking after the numerous computer systems on board.

When deployed on exercises and operations, sailors will routinely have a secondary role and his is to lead Montrose’s boarding team.

He added: ‘On exercises like Baltops we have to be on standby to react at a moments notice, this is a fast paced exercise so preparation is key as we could come under attack or be called upon to board a suspect vessel.

‘But there is a side to the boarding team that people hear little about and that’s the humanitarian element.

‘A few years ago we were in the Gulf and we boarded a dhow where we found the crew living in squalor.

‘We got our engineer across and managed to at least get their toilets flushing again, it was the least we could do and it really helped them out.’

 

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