Warship’s crew visits Libya to bolster ties between two navies

EYE IN THE SKY Flight Commander Lt Andy Thompson and right Pilot Lt Johny Stanton flying HMS Kent's Lynx from 415 Sqn
EYE IN THE SKY Flight Commander Lt Andy Thompson and right Pilot Lt Johny Stanton flying HMS Kent's Lynx from 415 Sqn

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ROYAL Navy frigate HMS Kent has paid a visit to Libya to strengthen ties after the country was torn apart by civil war.

She is the first navy warship to be invited to Tripoli in more than 40 years.

The Portsmouth-based Type 23 frigate hosted a series of events on board to symbolise the UK’s support to Libya’s transition into a democratic state.

It comes two years after British forces helped topple Colonel Gaddafi and his forces.

Royal Navy warships delivered humanitarian aid, rescued refugees and enforced the United Nations’ no-fly zone as rebel forces fought to overthrow the dictatorship.

Commander Ben Ripley, HMS Kent’s commanding officer, said: ‘My ship’s company and I enjoyed our visit to Tripoli.

‘The Royal Navy is proud to be able to support Libya, and we were humbled by their generosity of spirit.’

Sailors on board HMS Kent also took part in a number of cultural events in the country, to give locals a better understanding of the Royal Navy.

Five Libyan naval officers had the opportunity to experience life on board the ship as she sailed from Portsmouth to Tripoli.

The two navigators and three engineers were given an insight into the operations of a frigate.

They were given tours of the ship and watched demonstrations.

Commander Salem Abughufa is the commander of a Libyan navy coastal unit.

He said: ‘I thank the Royal Navy for their hospitality and for this opportunity which has been highly beneficial.

‘A particular highlight was the introduction to the electronic navigation systems.

‘The sharing of information on ship procedures and training

for deployment was also very useful.

‘I hope the co-operation and training opportunities between the two navies will continue to grow.’

Having left Tripoli, HMS Kent is continuing her seven-month journey further east, where she will conduct counter-piracy operations.

The Type 23 frigate has recently emerged from a £24m refit with upgraded computers, sensors, guns and engines.