Minehunter HMS Penzance has left the Clyde to take up the UK baton from HMS Ledbury on NATO duties in the Mediterranean.
The Sandown Class ship will join a small force of sailors as part of the Standing NATO Mine Countermeasures Group 2, whose job it is to patrol the Mediterranean and sometimes the Black Sea, the eastern Atlantic and the other side of the Suez Canal.
The group works together to clear historic weapons from the 2 world wars to more recent conflicts such as the Balkans in the 1990s, and also stands ready to react to remove more recent mines.
The NATO force is made up of minehunters from Italy, Turkey, Germany and the UK, plus a command ship from the Deutsche Marine, as the Germans are currently in charge of the group.
Some of HMS Penzance’s crew are veterans of NATO missions, such as Leading Diver Matthew Baker, aged 28, from Portsmouth, who last worked with the international mine force back in 2006.
It’s been a while since I’ve worked under the NATO badge, but I’m really looking forward to working as part of a task group again,” he said. “It was a great experience last time in the Baltic, and I have no doubt it’ll be just as successful this time around.
Penzance has recently received a major overhaul at Rosyth and has spent the summer undergoing trials and operational sea training. A rigorous programme ensured that both the ship and the ship’s company are fully prepared for the NATO mission.
Lieutenant Commander Nick Unwin, HMS Penzance’s Commanding Officer, said:
This particular commitment is a long-standing, enduring commitment our Royal Navy mine countermeasures vessels have undertaken for many years and our upcoming work in the Mediterranean region will continue to build and strengthen our working relationships with our NATO colleagues.