HMS Somerset Sails to Protect Mediterranean Shipping
Plymouth-based HMS Somerset has sailed for a six-month maritime security patrol in the Mediterranean. The ship’s company will operate with a multinational force as part of the ongoing NATO mission to combat illegal use of international waters. Commander Rob Wilson, the ship’s commanding officer, sailed two days ago (21 January):
This deployment is the culmination of everything we worked towards last year. I am immensely proud of my ship’s company. They have brought HMS Somerset out from refit and proven both the ship and themselves in a grueling training programme to prepare the team for operational tasking. Whilst our thoughts are with the loved ones we will leave behind, we are a professional team, ready in all respects to deliver.
HMS Somerset left her homeport of Devonport to patrol the Mediterranean including join the standing NATO force conducting Operation Active Endeavour. The force will police shipping and board selected vessels. The ships of the multi-national force also gather intelligence on merchant shipping movements to detect suspicious activity. The force underlines NATO’s commitment to combating illegal use of the sea and conduct joint exercises to improve working and understanding between different navies. The NATO operation in the Mediterranean has been happening since October 2001 and has been bolstered by non-NATO nations such as the Ukraine, Georgia or Albania.
Lt Kate Muir, 25, one of Somerset’s Bridge watch-keepers and one of the Boarding Team officers said: “I am very excited about putting the skills that we learned during our recent period of training into practice. I am also looking forward to working with our allied counterparts.”
In December, HMS Somerset completed a strenuous eight-week training regime with flying colours with the staff of Devonport-based Flag Officer Sea Training organisation to ensure the crew and the ship are honed to perfection to work in unison on whatever frontline task is demanded of them.
95% of the UK’s trade is moved by sea. Every day countless ships load and unload their cargoes at British ports. They are the lifeblood of the UK economy so it is vital for the nation’s prosperity the sea-lanes remain safe. The Mediterranean sea is a key shipping route both for merchant shipping from local nations and also for the bulk cargo ships going further afield through the Suez canal. However, the Mediterranean is also increasingly open to abuse from illegal activities such as people trafficking, smuggling and terrorism.
HMS Somerset has recently undergone a multi-million pound refit and is one of the most modern and capable warships in the Fleet. Her recent deployments have provided maritime security off Iraq and in the Mediterranean. Her team of 180 dedicated sailors has ensured that she remains a potent element of Britain’s defence capability, acting as a force for good around the world.
Source: Royal Navy Live