Kamis, Februari 25, 2010

HMS Monmouth Strengthens Ties With Kuwait

The Plymouth based T23 Frigate, HMS Monmouth, visited Kuwait in the North Arabian Gulf for two days with the primary purpose of supporting the Kuwait Joint Command Staff College with their ‘Staff College Sea Days’.

The Kuwait Joint Command Staff College is a centre of excellence in the region with students from all three services mostly of the rank Major/Lieutenant Colonel and above. Its syllabus is modeled on its British equivalent, JSCSC Shrivenham, and teaches British style doctrine. It is supported by the tri-service British Military Mission, working directly under the Chief of Staff, Kuwaiti Armed Forces and is headed by a British Colonel with 15 staff. Approximately a third of the College’s students are from outside Kuwait, on this occasion it included students from Bangladesh, Canada, China, Egypt, India, Lebanon, Jordan, Mauritania, Pakistan, South Korea, Syria, UK and USA.

The ‘Staff College Sea Days’ was an excellent opportunity for the British warship to offer an interesting, first-hand insight into the maritime environment on a modern, sophisticated frigate. With the majority of the students having never experienced a warship before, due to their Air Force or Army background, the visit was key to providing them with the essential understanding of maritime operations.

A full programme was delivered over each day with the highlights being a live boarding demonstration by the ship’s Boarding Team and an air defence exercise supported by two Kuwaiti Air Force F18’s. Two Kuwaiti Puma helicopters also conducted a winching exercise to the frigate and ‘Blackbird’, Monmouth’s Merlin helicopter, conducted a full role demonstration. There were many other stances around the ship including a damage control demonstration, a live gunnery serial and a look around the main machinery spaces.

More than 90 Staff College students embarked Monmouth, more fondly known as ‘The Black Duke’ over the two day period, one of them commented on his experience:

“I have thoroughly enjoyed the hospitality that Monmouth extended to us today. Coming from an Army background I have never been on a warship before and after this experience I have a better understanding of how the Navy operates and the capabilities it can offer.”

Keen to demonstrate one of the many roles and functions of a modern Royal Navy frigate, Leading Physical Training Instructor Howard Peplow acted the role of a non-compliant dhow captain during the boarding exercise. He said:

“It has been hard work but a great opportunity to demonstrate the wide variety of training we conduct within the Royal Navy; we are a fully trained, operational warship and what we hoped to give the Staff College was realism and excitement delivered with the ‘Black Duke’s’ passion for success.”

The embarked Royal Marines spent a highly successful 48 hours training with the Kuwaiti Coast Guard. They conducted integration training with simulating boarding operations. The Kuwaitis also extended the use of their firing ranges to the RN Ratings in order to maintain their marksmanship skills.

The ship’s job is vital in contributing to the fight against international terrorism and helping to develop regional stability; supporting the event was fundamental in demonstrating the UK’s continued commitment to the region and reaffirming the excellent working relationship between the two countries.

Commander Tony Long Royal Navy, Commanding Officer, summed up by saying:

“This was a highly valuable 48 hours where the Royal Navy extended a warm welcome to key nations and introduced them to the flexibility of maritime power, its relevance to the joint environment and the support that Air and Land units can expect from a high readiness frigate such as HMS Monmouth.”

Within hours of dropping off her guests ‘The Black Duke’ was on patrol with the Combined Task Force (Iraqi Maritime) in its role of protecting the offshore Iraqi oil platforms. HMS Monmouth hands over responsibility to HMS St Albans in March and will return to the UK after spending more than six months deployed.

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