HMS Brocklesby visits the rind-land

12 January 2009 -- HMS Brocklesby left a very cold Solent behind bound for Copenhagen (every bit as chilly as Pompey, but snowier) to join NATO’s Standing Mine Countermeasures Group for the next six months.

The force has been headed by the RN for the past month (survey ship HMS Roebuck put her hydrographic work on hold to serve as command ship during 2008), but now the lovers of bacon and pastry are taking charge – hence the visit to Denmark’s capital.

Mercifully given the icy weather currently engulfing much of the continent, the task group – comprising vessels from Germany, Belgium, Latvia and the Netherlands as well as the UK and Denmark – won’t be spending long in the Kattegat.

It begins its mine clearance work and exercises in the Mediterranean, allowing Brocklesby to demonstrate the potency of Seafox, the ship’s new mine disposal system which is better (and cheaper) than the ‘yellow submarine’ it replaces.

The remote-controlled submarine can destroy underwater ordnance at depths of more than 300 metres (984ft) – something there’s a good chance it will be required to do.

For after the month or so in the Med, the force shifts to the Channel, North Sea and Baltic with much of the emphasis of operations on blowing up live WW2 ordnance which still litters Europe’s waters.

“It will be busy, but varied,” said Brocklesby’s CO Lt Cdr Tom Tredray. “It’s always interesting working with ships from foreign navies. I know the younger members of the ship’s company are looking forward to that in particular.”

They’re also probably looking forward to better communications with home; the Hunt-class warship is among the first in the Fleet to receive enhanced broadband which should make surfing the internet at sea considerably faster (the web at sea is invariably very sluggish). (news @ navynews)

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