Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Mid-ocean rendezvous with an old friend for HMS Cornwall

WHAT does 21 plus 22 equal?

That’s right, naval firepower.
The 21 is Pakistan’s PNS Shah Jahan – formerly Type 21 frigate HMS Active – and the 22 is our very own HMS Cornwall, both keeping pirates under the knout off the Horn of Africa.
Cornwall is the flagship of Combined Task Force 151, the international naval force tackling piracy and other criminal activities in the Indian Ocean.
That task force is currently headed by Pakistan’s Cdre Aleem and his staff, and when Shah Jahan joined 151, it allowed a bit of an Anglo-Pakistani get together.
While the Shah Jahan’s Allouette helicopter ferried Cdre Aleem to the Pakistani frigate, Cornwall ship’s company enjoyed a rather more basic form of transport to take them across to the new arrival (ie sea boat).
A number of sailors from both ships ‘cross-polled’ for a glimpse of life in the respective navies, among them ET(WE) Sam Cassidy. He’s too young to have served on T21s... but he knows a man who did.
"It was amazing being in a ship that my father knew so well and that I had visited as a little boy –  the memories came flooding back,” he said.
“I’ve taken loads of photos for my dad and can’t wait to tell him all about it! And it was great to see her in such good shape and at the centre of Pakistan Navy operations.”
Active was laid down 40 years ago and served under the White Ensign, earning battle honours in the Falklands, until 1994 when she was sold to Pakistan.

Her crew were given a tour of the ship, received briefings on the current state of play in the fight against piracy and watched Cornwall’s upper deck team demonstrate how to deal with a small surface contact, while the Fighting 99’s Royal Marines boarding party worked with their Pakistani counterparts.
Apart from the meet ‘n’ greets and tours, there was an operational side to the rendezvous: as Shah Jahan has only recently joined CTF 151 this was an ideal opportunity for her key personnel to be brought up to date with activity in the region, including intelligence and situational briefs and some boarding training.
"Our links with the Pakistan Navy have always been strong,” said Cornwall’s CO Cdr David Wilkinson of the rendezvous with PNS Shah Jahan.
"It also brought back some very fond memories for those of us who were in the Royal Navy when HMS Active was still in commission under the White Ensign."
PNS Shah Jahan leads HMS Cornwall during the rendezvous. Picture: LA(Phot) Dave Jenkins
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