The Royal Navy frigate HMS Monmouth left Plymouth yesterday on a seven-month maritime security deployment to the Gulf.
The ship has two main missions: to protect the trade routes the UK economy depends on and to maintain security on the high seas, which will be achieved through surveillance and deterring and defeating piracy and terrorism at sea.
The crew of the Type 23 will also be building on and strengthening relationships with allies from various nations.
The Commanding Officer of HMS Monmouth, Commander Gordon Ruddock, paid tribute to his crew and their families ahead of the intensive maritime policing patrol to protect the vital trade routes serving the UK and the world. He said:
I’m extremely proud of the positive, professional approach of my ship’s company in tackling a demanding training package.
There is a great sense of anticipation as we prepare for our mission of conducting maritime security operations in the Gulf. The UK has vital interests in the region and we are looking forward to playing our part in promoting them.
Support to and from families is critical for ships on deployment. If a sailor has a small problem at home this could easily be translated into a bigger problem for him as he worries and it affects his work on board the ship and therefore the ship. So support for families back home is essential and is extensive which reassures our people.
The ship’s mere presence in the Gulf should act as a deterrent to maritime criminals. Policing will include boarding ships to check if their activity is legitimate and to disrupt any actual illegal activity.
Policing will also include communicating with shipping and reassuring vessels of the Royal Navy’s good intentions.
The Devonport-based ship has been conducting intensive training in preparation for her deployment, covering the full range of operations from test-firing weapons to providing humanitarian relief. She sails with 210 personnel, including Royal Marines to act as a board and search security force and to protect the ship.
Weapon Engineer Officer Lieutenant Commander Steve Gilmore said:
One highlight of the training has been a successful test-firing of all our guns and the Sea Wolf surface-to-air missile system. Testing all our systems is a vital part of preparing for any mission. It was very satisfying to see the missile prove its capability once again.
We also have to get our families ready for our seven months away, which means hiding my fiancee’s Christmas presents before I go!
Able Seaman Dave Groves is also looking forward to the deployment:
The Black Duke [as HMS Monmouth is known] is my first ship. We have trained hard and I’m looking forward to getting out there and doing the job.
Whilst they are away, the ship’s crew and their families will be supported by a comprehensive welfare package, with free phone calls and package delivery and a range of other benefits. These will be particularly welcome at important times such as Christmas and Easter.