One in, one out for Royal Navy minehunters

This news article was published under the 2010 to 2015 Conservative and Liberal Democrat coalition government

Royal Navy minehunter HMS Blyth left on a six-month deployment to the Mediterranean on Friday 29 June while HMS Ledbury returned from the region to Portsmouth on the same day.

Following six months of preparation and training HMS Blyth ‘left the wall’ on Friday from her home port of HM Naval Base Clyde to start her journey to the Mediterranean for a six-month NATO deployment.

The highly-equipped Sandown Class ship is off to join a NATO task force carrying out mine countermeasures exercises and operations in both the Mediterranean and the Black Sea.

Hunt Class minehunter HMS Ledbury and her ship’s company of 42 sailed in early January. Since then Ledbury has clocked up 12,000 nautical miles (22,224km), and has spent her time operating with NATO’s permanent mine countermeasures group, assisting with the task of clearing the Mediterranean of historic ordnance left from the World Wars and more recent conflicts, and conducting a series of exercises.

See Related News to read more on HMS Ledbury’s Mediterranean deployment.

The ship and her crew have sailed around most of the Mediterranean in their six-month deployment, visiting 18 ports in eight countries including Malta, Sicily, Croatia, Spain, Portugal and Italy. There were also two visits to key North African countries as part of NATO’s role in the Mediterranean.

During recent training off the coast of Sardinia, HMS Ledbury worked with Italian counterparts to destroy a live Second World War German sea mine that had been spotted by Ledbury’s skilled operators using the ship’s sophisticated sonar at a depth of 43 metres. The ship’s remote-controlled mini submarine Seafox was used to beam live video back to the ship, enabling mine clearance divers to detonate the aged ordnance safely.

Lieutenant Commander Tony Williams, Commanding Officer of HMS Ledbury, said:

I am very proud of the efforts of my crew, who have unrelentingly displayed their professionalism and fortitude from the moment we started preparing for this deployment over a year ago.

The deployment has been challenging but very rewarding and I am particularly proud of my team’s efforts in finding and destroying the mine off Sardinia.

My crew and I would like to thank all those who have supported us during this deployment and we are all very glad to be home with our families after such a long time away.

Lieutenant Hamish Maxwell, Navigating Officer on HMS Blyth, said:

The Mediterranean provides a testing and different environment to what the ship’s company have experienced in Scotland, which makes it an ideal location for us to develop our capabilities.

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