Thursday, May 19, 2011

Iron Duke back in business after two weeks in Dubai

LEADING her much larger compatriot through the rather calm waters of the Gulf, minehunter HMS Grimsby meets up with HMS Iron Duke for a rare link-up.
Grimsby’s about to end her two-year-plus tour of duty in the Middle East and return to the cooler surroundings of Faslane.
Iron Duke is on making her first appearance in the Gulf and, in this instance, is shaking off the cobwebs after a fortnight in Dubai.
The UAE metropolis was the choice for the Type 23 frigate’s mid-deployment standdown, permitting essential work on some of the ship’s systems… and some essential R&R in the Gulf’s No.1 holiday destination for the ship’s company.

As well as a fortnight’s maintenance and some well-deserved R&R in the Gulf’s No.1 holiday destination, the longer period alongside allowed the frigate to host two important visits.
Alan Duncan, the Minister for International Development, was invited aboard for a briefing on the challenges encountered – and contribution made – by the sizeable Royal Navy and Royal Fleet Auxiliary presence in the Indian Ocean in the struggle against piracy.
Shortly after the MP departed, the Armed Forces Pay Review Body came on board. A mixture of private and public sector economic experts, it’s the group’s job to provide the Ministry of Defence with independent advice on the pay and allowances sailors, soldiers and airmen should receive.
To ensure they understand life in the RN – or at least a smidgen of it – they visit a deployed surface ship every year, with the Iron Duck this year’s choice (they also visit Senior Service units and establishments in Blighty, plus the Army and RAF at home and abroad).
The review group’s members talked to crew of all ranks on the Type 23 from ABs up to CO Cdr Nick Cooke-Priest and left Iron Duke with a clear understanding of the challenges of life aboard a British warship in the Gulf.
With visitors departed and maintenance completed, back to sea for a small trial period to ensure everything was working properly after the work carried out in Dubai.
That trial period was conducted in the presence of Bahrain-based Grimsby, with various Officer of the Watch manoeuvres and other procedures completed before the two Royal Navy vessels parted company.
The Sandown-class minehunter will shortly be making the 6,000-mile journey for home as HMS Ramsey sails east to take her place.
As for Iron Duke, with the task of protecting Iraq’s two oil terminals now over – F234 completed the UK’s eight-year mission last month with the final patrol of the Al Basrah platform – the role of the RN’s on-watch Gulf frigate has assumed a wider role of providing support and reassurance to seafarers in the region.


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