New Team Heads Up Navy Minehunting Mission In Gulf

Soaring temperatures did not stop the newcomers from heading out to sea to explore their new surroundings.

A new team has taken charge of the Royal Navy's minehunting mission in the Gulf.

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

For the past six months, the mission has been directed by Commander Neil Griffiths but he has now formally handed over to Commander Rich Talbot.

The handover took place at the UK Naval Support Facility in Bahrain, the hub for the Royal Navy's operations in the Middle East.

These operations currently involve seven vessels, two Wildcat helicopters and more than 600 personnel at sea.

After taking charge, Cdr Talbot was put to sea with HMS Ledbury and HMS Brocklesby, which hunt for mines in shallow waters.

Also part of the exercise was HMS Blyth, which finds explosives in deeper waters using detachable sonar.

The week-long training exercise allowed the new battlestaff to acclimatise to conditions - temperatures hit 42C - and to familiarise themselves with the ships and sailors under their command.

Cdr Talbot said: "It is an enormous privilege to take command of the force.

"My team and I are looking to take forward the exceptional work that the force has been involved in for over a decade here in the Middle East."

HMS Brocklesby specialises in shallow-water minehunting (Picture: Royal Navy).

HMS Ledbury and HMS Blyth will soon trade places with their sister ships HMS Chiddingfold and HMS Penzance.

Crews will also switch from six-month tours of duty to four-month tours.

Despite the many changes, the force's mission remains the same: to work with other naval forces to maintain security and protect merchant shipping from mines through the region.

Cover image: HMS Blyth after a day's training (Picture: Royal Navy).