HMS Sutherland deployed a team of Royal Marines and Royal Navy sailors to search the merchant vessel in international waters close to Libya, enforcing the current arms embargo, preventing the flow of illegal weapons and munitions into the hands of pro-Gaddafi forces, ultimately to protect Libyan civilians.
Commander Roger Readwin, commanding officer of HMS Sutherland, said:
Sutherland’s Royal Marine and Royal Navy boarding teams provide a vital capability, enforcing internationally mandated embargoes to support the overall aim of protecting Libyan citizens.
HMS Sutherland is able to quickly insert multiple specialist teams by high-speed boat whilst simultaneously providing close surveillance of the vessel and her crew using our state-of-the-art sensors and Lynx helicopter.
NATO ships enforcing the embargo initially assess suspicious vessels electronically using the Automated Identification System allowing a detailed interrogation to occur even before they have been boarded.
Hailing the ship over the radio allows information about the vessel and it’s cargo to be further scrutinised, with irregularities being meticulously investigated.
Lieutenant Viggars RM, officer commanding HMS Sutherland’s Royal Marines boarding team, said:
In a highly demanding sea state, my lads swiftly, but safely, boarded the suspect vessel and conducted a thorough search. Once we had satisfied ourselves they were not in breach of the embargo, my Marines and Royal Navy teams disembarked as professionally as they had arrived.
The vessel was cleared to proceed along her original course, and we returned to Sutherland ready for our next tasking.
Petty Officer Jones, of the Royal Navy boarding team, said:
We work very closely with the Royal Marine boarding teams in order to secure a ship, allowing us to search it safely and thoroughly. We always work professionally together and combined, give Sutherland a formidable asset ready to go at a moment’s notice.