Exercises

HMS Brocklesby Tests Minehunting Skills In Gulf

The ship and her crew faced extreme temperatures in excess of 40 degrees and strong winds during the exercise.

The Royal Navy's HMS Brocklesby joined forces with the US and Saudi Arabian navies to test their combined minehunting skills in the Gulf.

All three nations maintain a mine warfare force in the region, with the aim of providing security and protecting merchant shipping from mines.

Personnel had to detect, classify and, if required, neutralise a series of training mines, the Navy said.

USS Dextrous and USS Gladiator took part in the week-long exercise, along with HMS Brocklesby and Royal Saudi Naval Forces vessel, Al Shaqra.

The ships faced extreme temperatures in excess of 40 degrees and strong winds.

HMS Brocklesby’s Commanding Officer, Lieutenant Commander Chris Easterbrook, said given the challenging weather conditions, the exercise "was more a masterclass than a gentle introduction".

"For some new joiners, this was their first taste in working with the UK’s partners in the region," he added.

"It was a fantastic opportunity for mine hunters from the UK, USA and Saudi Arabia to learn from each other.

"We like to pride ourselves on being at the forefront of mine countermeasures, but there’s always something you can learn from your allies."

Watching proceedings was the senior coalition naval officer in the region, Vice Admiral James Malloy, who commands the US Fifth Fleet from Bahrain.

USS Gladiator leads HMS Brocklesby during the minehunting exercise in the Gulf (Picture: Royal Navy).

He said: "As mines threaten maritime traffic indiscriminately, it is crucial that we focus our combined efforts on addressing threats to freedom of navigation in the region.

"Training like this emphasises our commitment to the free flow of commerce and the safety of navigation."

The Saudis operate three Sandown-class ships built, like their Royal Navy counterparts, at the former Vosper Thornycroft yard in Southampton.

Sandown-class ships are designed to hunt mines in deep waters, while HMS Brocklesby specialises in locating explosive devices in the shallows.

The US' Avenger-class ships are based next to the Royal Navy’s flotilla in Bahrain.

Britain has kept a four-strong minehunting force in Bahrain for more than a decade.

HMS Brocklesby began her two-year deployment to the Gulf in 2018, taking over from her sister ship HMS Middleton.

Cover image: Four minehunters took part in the exercise (Picture: Royal Navy).