Royal Fleet Auxiliary vessel Cardigan Bay returned to Portsmouth today after a three-year deployment to the Gulf in support of coalition operations and the Iraqi Navy.
The Landing Ship Dock vessel has been an essential platform in the northern Gulf over the last three years providing support and training facilities to Iraqi, US and UK units stationed in the area.
Highlights of the deployment have included Iraqi Marines and naval personnel learning about sea survival in the ship’s flooded dock, US patrol boat teams and the boats themselves being stationed onboard, regular VIP visits, and the occasional short port visit.
The ship, which for the majority of the deployment has been the largest coalition unit in the area, has had a fully operational crew of up to 121 onboard comprising personnel from the Royal Fleet Auxiliary, Royal Navy, Royal Naval Reserve and the Royal Logistic Corps.
The Commanding Officer, Captain Paul Minter, said:
RFA Cardigan Bay has truly secured her place in the history of Operation TELIC and the history of the fledgling Iraqi Navy.
It has been a demanding but rewarding role to provide support to such an important task, and has demonstrated the versatility of these capable ships.
Cardigan Bay is now returning to prepare for amphibious duties in support of Commander Amphibious Task Group later in the year.
During the course of the deployment the ship has travelled more than 71,500 nautical miles (over 132,000km), undertaken 24 patrols in the Gulf and those serving on board have earned hundreds of Iraq Medals.
The ship returned home with a full operational cargo of desert combat vehicles loaded in Cyprus, showing that even on her way home she is providing a useful service to combined operations.