HMS Brocklesby has been awarded the accolade of Britain's best minehunter for its work in the waters off Libya last year.
The ship was singled out as the most effective mine warfare vessel in the Royal Navy - out of a fleet of 15 - for her months-long stint in the Gulf of Sirte which saw her blow up a mine laid by pro-Government forces as they sought to strangle the city of Misurata.
A few days after HMS Liverpool was rewarded for her seven-month stint by being named the fleet’s best destroyer, the crew of HMS Brocklesby collected a similar trophy: Britain’s best minehunter.
Until relieved by HMS Bangor, the Portsmouth-based warship kept the sea lanes to the besieged port of Misurata open alongside other NATO minehunters.
That mission saw the ship’s company involved in live mine-clearance operations within range of enemy artillery and rockets for the first time since being deployed to the Al Faw peninsula in Iraq in 2003.
Brocklesby found and destroyed one mine which pro-Gaddafi forces laid in the approaches to Misurata, and thus helped to ensure that humanitarian aid continued to flow into the city by sea.
All of which was far from expected of the ship at the start of 2011 when Brocklesby originally set off on a routine six-month deployment to be part of Standing NATO Mine Countermeasures Group 1, which patrols European and Mediterranean waters exercising, practising and frequently dealing with unexploded ordnance from wars past, rather than wars present.
The rapidly-developing events of the ‘Arab Spring’ across the countries of North Africa then saw her reassigned at short notice to support Operation UNIFIED PROTECTOR and Operation ELLAMY off the coast of Libya.
Brocklesby’s 155-day stint earned the ship’s company the Mine Warfare Trophy and Surface Fleet Efficiency Pennant - previously held by Faslane-based HMS Blyth.
The pennant can now fly on Brocklesby every day for the next 12 months.
The awards were handed over by Rear Admiral Duncan Potts, Rear Admiral Surface Ships, and Captain Mark Durkin, Captain Minor War Vessels and Fishery Protection, as part of the annual presentation of fleet efficiency trophies and standards.
Rear Admiral Potts commented on the great achievements of the ship’s company over the last year, particularly in operations off Libya, which demonstrated that the crew truly deserved the awards.
In particular he stressed the importance of recognising the constant efforts of small ships and the mine warfare community in the Gulf as well as in the Mediterranean.
After the presentation ceremony, the Admiral dined and chatted with a cross-section of Brocklesby’s crew to gain an insight into their experiences of the operations and a general view of life aboard a small ship.
Since returning from her Libyan mission last summer Brocklesby has undergone a spot of maintenance and is now exercising and training around the UK as part of her regeneration for her next deployment.