Iron Duke heads east after Gibraltar visit

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HMS Mersey, in the foreground, escorts the Vishnya class (520) Feodor Golovkin and its Russian task group through the English Channel. Credit: Louise George

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HMS Iron Duke stopped in Gibraltar for training exercises before heading east to protect shipping lanes in the Arabian Gulf.

During the run ashore, 50 sailors took part in the traditional Rock Race, a 2.7-mile run from the ship to the top of the Rock, which is 1,300-feet high.

The Portsmouth-based frigate, which left her home port on January 10, sailed from Gibraltar at Action Stations with everyone in position to deal with any conceivable threat. In this case, it was only a training exercise with the ‘threat’ coming from the Gibraltar Squadron while the ship simulated fires, floods and battle damage.

Iron Duke then crossed the Mediterranean, taking part in a maritime security operation to combat smuggling and human trafficking in support of counter-terrorism.

Before passing through the Suez Canal, she stopped off at Souda Bay, Crete, for three days of trials and checks on the ship’s sensors, weapons and communications equipment.

While in Souda, the ship was visited by Commodore Rupert Wallace, head of Portsmouth Flotilla.

He said: ‘I was impressed by the clear enthusiasm of the ship’s company, allied with the good material condition of the ship.

‘This translates into a strong sense of readiness for entry into theatre.’

It’s the first time the 4,900-ton Type 23 frigate has been deployed to the Gulf to provide security to shipping lanes.