News story

HMS Blyth takes command of NATO task group

HMS Blyth, the Clyde-based minehunter currently deployed in the Mediterranean, has taken up position as 'command platform' of a NATO task group in the region.

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Royal Navy minehunter HMS Blyth

Royal Navy minehunter HMS Blyth [Picture: Crown Copyright/MOD]

The sophisticated Sandown Class mine countermeasures vessel left her home of HM Naval Base Clyde in June this year on a 3,000-mile (4,800km) voyage to the Mediterranean and Black Sea.

Since then Blyth has taken part in Exercise Poseidon, a Black Sea exercise which saw the ship work alongside Italian, Turkish and German vessels to practise minehunting operations and conduct maritime training.

The task group broke up at the end of Exercise Poseidon in August and, after a period alongside in Toulon in the South of France, HMS Blyth recently travelled to Naples in Italy to be part of the reforming Standing NATO Mine Countermeasures Group 2 and ready herself for more international exercises, this time in the warm waters of the Mediterranean.

Lieutenant Nick Court, Operations Officer on board HMS Blyth, said:

It is a privilege to be so involved in the co-ordination of this task group and all the ships involved are very much looking forward to working together closely.

Blyth has now been joined by the three other ships which make up the Group - Italian vessel ITS Viareggio, Turkish ship TCG Ayvalik and German minehunter FGS Groemitz.

The Royal Navy minehunter and her international partners have already spent a short period at sea together, honing vital professional skills ahead of their NATO tasking.

The crew of HMS Blyth were also joined by Commander Allied Maritime Command (Northwood), Admiral Sir George Zambellas, who also holds the title of Fleet Commander. The Admiral gave positive and strong advice on how he expects the Royal Navy and NATO forces to confront modern day operations in constantly changing scenarios.

The Commanding Officer of HMS Blyth, Lieutenant Commander Tim Davey, said:

It is a busy and exciting period ahead of us as we lead the way in reforming this high readiness task group. Having met the crews I am confident that they are very much up for the task.

Blyth is now looking forward to an intense and rewarding time performing a number of different roles. As well as her NATO tasking, she will be involved in exercises with some of the UK’s allies to maintain the skills developed during pre-deployment training earlier this year.

In the near future the ship will take part in a NATO surveillance surge aimed at better understanding the security environment the vessels operate in. There will also be an opportunity to take part in the French-led Exercise Noble Mariner in the demanding maritime environment of the Mediterranean.

Published 27 September 2012