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Navy minehunter in Gulf exercises with US Navy

Royal Navy minehunter HMS Middleton has recently flexed her hunting prowess during a recent exercise with the US Navy in the Gulf.

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HMS Middleton

Royal Navy Hunt Class minehunter HMS Middleton with a US Navy MH-53E Sea Dragon helicopter sweeping for mines from the skies above [Picture: Crown Copyright/MOD 2012]

As part of their regular practice searching for mines in the warmer waters of the Gulf, the ship’s company worked alongside their coalition counterparts to exercise their already well-established techniques.

For the ten-day exercise, the US Navy deployed their MH-53E Sea Dragon - a specially designed helicopter that can sweep for mines from the air.

Finding 13 dummy mines that had been laid by friendly forces was a successful haul for HMS Middleton, particularly as the temperature of the water can make it more difficult for the ship’s sonar to detect ordnance; the water weakens the returning signal so the mine warfare teams have to be more precise with their searches.

Sub-Lieutenant Christopher Chew, Navigating Officer of HMS Middleton, said:

The ability to work closely with other units, particularly from different nations, allows HMS Middleton to be constantly ready to be deployed anywhere in the world whatever the scenario.

There are four Royal Navy minehunters based in Bahrain - currently HMS Middleton, Ramsey, Quorn and Pembroke - and the skills learned from working in the shallow waters helped the personnel from HMS Bangor and HMS Brocklesby last year when they found and destroyed mines laid by Colonel Gaddafi’s regime off the coast of Libya.

With over a week spent at sea for the exercise, HMS Middleton also took the opportunity to replenish her supplies. Bringing HMS Middleton alongside Royal Fleet Auxiliary ship Lyme Bay allowed the minehunter to take on fuel, ammunition and food without having to head back into harbour.

HMS Middleton will continue to carry out operations in the Gulf until later this year when she is due to head back to the UK.

Published 12 April 2012