A MINEHUNTER has left Portsmouth Naval Base to embark on a 6,000-mile journey to Bahrain.
Portsmouth-based HMS Brocklesby left her home port today to take over from her sister ship HMS Middleton.
For the next two years the Hunt-class vessel will form part of a four-strong permanent minehunter presence in the Gulf, working to protect the region by clearing mines and carrying out a route survey.
During her deployment, HMS Brocklesby’s crew will rotate every six or seven months – with her current crew set to return in time for Christmas.
The minehunter’s commanding officer, lieutenant commander Paul Irving, said: ‘After a busy period of maintenance and a lot of hard work from my ship’s company it was a fantastic feeling to sail today to the Gulf.
‘We are looking forward to getting into our primary role by ensuring we keep shipping lanes safe and working with our regional partners to provide maritime security.’
Prior to deployment, HMS Brocklesby’s crew completed five weeks of operational sea training (OST) and took part in the international Joint Warrior exercise.
Uniting 11,600 military personnel from 17 nations, the fixture is led by the UK and features activities relating to counter-terrorism, anti-smuggling, evacuation, live-firing and urban combat.
For many of the ship’s company, recent training was their first experience of OST – including ‘Smudge’ Smith.
The engineering technician in communication and information systems said: ‘This has been a great opportunity for me to put my skills into practice and learn lots of new things too.’
At the other end of the scale, Brocklesby’s executive officer Lt Tom Forbes has gone through OST several times.
He said: ‘Having served in Hunts my whole career, it still surprises me how many different scenarios the staff can produce to consistently create new and challenging incidents for the ship’s company to deal with.’
HMS Shoreham, a Sandown-class minehunter, sailed yesterday from HM Naval Base Clyde to take over from her sister ship, HMS Bangor, who has also been part of the minehunter team in the Gulf.