HMS Ledbury became the first Royal Navy vessel to deploy in 2012 yesterday when she set sail from Portsmouth for the Mediterranean.
|HMS Ledbury will spend the next six months attached to a NATO minehunting force (stock image) [Picture: Crown Copyright/MOD 2011]|
Source: Ministry of Defence, UK
Click to enlarge
The Hunt Class minehunter will spend the next six months attached to a NATO minehunting force, Standing Mine Countermeasures Group 2, which will exercise over the length and breadth of the Mediterranean.
The group will practise the art of hunting mines and other underwater explosive devices, a practice which paid off in full in 2011.
The last time a Portsmouth-based minehunter — HMS Brocklesby — served with the NATO force she found herself ‘in the thick of it’, clearing mines for real off Libya to keep the sea lanes to Misurata open. HMS Bangor replaced her later in the conflict and performed similar sterling work.
With the Libyan mission now over, the group will resume its more usual mission — a mixture of exercising, goodwill visits to a multitude of ports on the Mediterranean shore, including stops in Italy, Spain, Greece and Morocco, and the hunt for historic ordnance left by wars past.
To prepare for her role with the NATO force, Ledbury spent much of 2011 in training. The 31-year-old ship came out of a maintenance period in March and then went through the rigours of operational sea training which prepared the 40-plus ship’s company for deployment.
More recently, the ship joined British and international warships for a two-week war game in north west Scotland, Exercise Joint Warrior, and found time to reaffirm bonds built up over the past three decades with her namesake town in Herefordshire.
Ledbury will be followed out of Portsmouth later this week by HMS Daring, the first deployment for any of the new Type 45 destroyers, when she sets sail for waters east of Suez.
In addition to the ships deployed, there are around 3,000 Royal Navy and Royal Fleet Auxiliary sailors, Fleet Air Arm personnel and Royal Marines already on duty — as they have been throughout the festive season — protecting our nation’s interests around the globe.
Ministry of Defence, UK