HMS Chatham begins counter piracy mission

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The Royal Navy warship HMS Chatham has arrived in the Gulf of Aden to take part in NATO’s counter-piracy mission, Operation OCEAN SHIELD, off the Horn of Africa.

The Plymouth-based Type 22 frigate and multi-national task groups are helping protect merchant ships, many of which bring goods into the UK, as they transit this busy sea.

Since leaving the UK January 2010, HMS Chatham’s crew have been carrying out ‘mission rehearsal’, practising tactics and procedures.

The full range of the ship’s counter-piracy capabilities has been tested, from the Lynx helicopter and fast rigid inflatable boats, through to the embarked Royal Marines boarding team. The sailors and Royal Marines are now keen to use their training.

HMS Chatham is patrolling a section of an agreed secure shipping lane through the Gulf of Aden, where the NATO task group and warships from other nations oversee merchant shipping, detect suspicious activity and deter pirates from attacking.

Commander Simon Huntington, the ship’s Commanding Officer, said:
“It is good to be on patrol here after months of preparation. On our first day on patrol there have already been three separate occasions where warships have intervened in suspected pirate activity. HMS Chatham is ready and eager to contribute to that effort.”

Captain Chris Beesley, Commander of the ship’s Royal Marines detachment,
said:
“During the transit to our area of operations we have integrated with the ship’s company and have been busy training. This has included practising our close-quarter battle drills, fast-rope insertions into small boats, and plenty of physical exercise. All the Royal Marines on board are now eager to begin our operational tasking.”

The three other ships comprising the task group (Standing NATO Maritime Group 1) with HMS Chatham are HDMS Absalon (Danish Navy), HMCS Fredericton (Canadian Navy), and USS Boone (US Navy).

Permanently assigned to NATO, the task group is a multi-national naval group providing NATO with the ability to quickly respond to crisis situations anywhere in the world.

It is one of four standing maritime elements that form a flexible core around which NATO can build a larger force to meet a wide range of missions that include non-combatant evacuations, consequence management, counter-terrorism, crisis response, and embargo operations.

Pic: HMS Chatham

Source: Ministry of Defence (United Kingdom)