Monday, February 14, 2011

Frigates work together for the final time

In the foreground HMS Cumberland. Beyond her, her sister HMS Cornwall.
Never again will two Type 22 frigates work together on operations – in this case safeguarding the troubled waters east of Suez.
Both are conducting their final deployments: the Fighting Sausage initially in the Gulf, now outside it; Cornwall as the flagship of Combined Task Force 151 keeping pirates under the thumb off the Horn of Africa.
All four 22s were axed under last year’s defence review: HMS Chatham has already paid off, Campbeltown is due to decommission imminently.

Their two remaining sisters are now working in tandem in the Gulf of Oman against the ever-present threat of piracy in the busy shipping lanes between Somalia and the coasts of Iran and Pakistan. 
There was still time for a brief break from maritime security operations for this last, historic photo opportunity to produce some iconic imagery for the respective ship’s companies.
“Both of these ships have served our country well over more than 20 years in service,” said Capt Steve Dainton who is, understandably, “extremely proud” to be Cumberland’s last Commanding Officer.
“The name ‘Cumberland’ has been in use almost continuously for RN warships since 1695, with this ship being the sixteenth to bear the name: she has a proud lineage.  So I hope that, in time, there will be another HMS Cumberland.
“In the meantime, we continue to focus on the task in hand before we return to the UK in the spring.  As you’ll have seen in the news, the pirates are very active and an increasing threat: never has our job out here been more important to UK energy and trade interests in the region.”
A series of events will be held onboard in Devonport on the frigate’s return to mark Cumberland’s passing including a reception and dinner for former COs, a reception for ship’s company past and present,  and finally the decommissioning ceremony on May 26.
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