Portsmouth navy ships join US navy in major minehunting operation in the Gulf

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A BRITISH fleet of minehunters has been put to the test in the Gulf as part of a major exercise with the US Navy.

The four-strong team of Royal Navy vessels from Portsmouth included HMS Bangor, HMS Penzance, HMS Middleton and HMS Chiddingford and Royal Fleet Auxiliary ship RFA Lyme Bay.

The war game, called Mine Countermeasures Exercise 17-1, saw the combined fleet of minehunters taking on a variety of tricky tasks, tackling mock explosives with ships, divers and helicopters.

Alongside the British ships were American vessels USS Devastator, USS Gladiator and USS Dextrous – all similar to the Royal Navy’s Hunt-class warships.

Commander David Morgan, who is in charge of all the Royal Navy’s minehunters in the Gulf, directed the operation from Lyme Bay.

He said it was a chance for the navy to ‘hone its skills’, adding the continuous training helped to ‘safeguard the free flow of commerce’ in the region.