UK — 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.

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]
Source: Min­istry of Defence, UK
Click to enlarge

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.

Press release
Min­istry of Defence, UK