Royal Navy minehunter from Portsmouth takes over guarding the Gulf as she heads towards Bahrain
A WARSHIP from Portsmouth has taken over the role of guarding one of the world’s most critical trade routes in the Middle East.
HMS Middleton has formerly taken over the task of guarding the Gulf having left Portsmouth earlier this.
The ship, supported by minehunter HMS Bangor, will be based in the region for the next three years.
Middleton and Bangor met Portsmouth-based HMS Brocklesby and HMS Shoreham, who handed over the baton of protecting the Gulf.
All four vessels linked up in the Saudi Red Sea port of Jeddah to swap lessons, equipment and tips for operating in the harsh Middle East environment, before parting.
Shoreham and Brocklesby are continuing home in company before separating in the Atlantic as the former heads to Faslane, in Scotland, and the latter makes for Portsmouth, returning in early October.
Each ship has spent a good three years operating out of Bahrain, working with allies and partners in the region to keep sea lanes open and remain at the cutting-edge of mine warfare in challenging conditions, visiting countries as far afield as Kuwait and Djibouti, and Oman and Egypt.
Although Middleton and Bangor are nearly at the foot of the Red Sea, the pair still have a good 2,800 miles to go to reach their future home as they sail around the Arabian Peninsula and into the Gulf.
‘The sail out has given a great opportunity for the ship’s company to enjoy the delights of the Mediterranean, but as we’ve handed over we shift our focus to operations and continuing the great work that both Shoreham and Brocklesby have done,’ said Lieutenant Commander Rob Couzens, Bangor’s skipper.
The two incoming ships also bring with them upgraded minehunting equipment, known as Orca, which provides greater situational awareness when working in the underwater environment to keep sea lanes safe.
They are also the latest vessels to employ the new working routine for crews: four months in the Gulf, four months back home on leave, courses or training.
Royal Navy ships currently deployed in Bahrain include Portsmouth-based HMS Chiddingfold, HMS Penzance, RFA Lyme Bay and frigate HMS Montrose.