HMS Shoreham crew return home

The men and women of HMS Shoreham have returned home to Faslane after seven months of operational duty in the Gulf.

More than 40 sailors waved a sad farewell to their Sandown-class minehunter last week and began the journey home from Bahrain.

It was a varied deployment for Crew 5 who found themselves conducting a wide range of activities throughout the Middle East, from survey missions with the Kuwaiti Navy to taking part in the largest mine countermeasures exercise ever held. 

However the main thrust of their deployment was playing a role in the United Kingdom’s ongoing commitment to maintaining freedom of navigation in the region.

The last seven months provided many new and varied experiences for everyone in Crew 5. In particular, the contact we had with our key regional allies generated some happy memories, especially the visits to Saudi Arabia and Kuwait, not to mention working so closely and frequently with the US Navy.

Lieutenant Commander Simon Kelly

Petty Officer Stuart Campbell, a mine warfare specialist, said that a Royal Navy and US Navy exercise back in September was the highlight of the deployment. He added:

“I was really grateful for the opportunity to visit the US Navy ships Gladiator, Devastator and Sentry. Having a chance to see how another powerful navy operates really made a difference to my understanding of how we in the Royal Navy do business.  

"I certainly felt better equipped to be able to work with my US Navy counterparts, who are one of our key allies in the region.”

The visit to Kuwait was definitely the high point for Lieutenant Peter Thompson, the ship’s Operations Officer. He said:

“It was fantastic to be able to stop in Kuwait, where my family are part of the British Military Mission. I’m really happy the ship’s company got to visit Kuwait and experience the warm welcome that the Kuwaitis and British Military mission are renowned for.”

For Lieutenant Mark Butcher, HMS Shoreham’s Executive Officer, it was the opportunity to carry out survey operations in partnership with the Kuwaiti Navy that appealed the most. He said:

“Getting involved in something that isn’t usual business for a minehunter was a real treat for me. It showed just how versatile a minehunter can be, and working with a key regional partner was great. As a hydrographer by trade it was fantastic to get out into the seaboat with the ship’s diving team and conduct the survey operation.”

While Leading Diver Scott Dooley took the chance to push his own personal limits by taking part in the inaugural Challenge Bahrain.  He said:

“Taking part in the Bahrain Triathlon was a first for me. Meeting the likes of professional athletes Laurel and Rebecca Wassner, Meredith Kessler and Tim Don before the race and showing them around the ship was a real pleasure. I was delighted by how much interest they showed in what we do out here.”

Lieutenant Commander Simon Kelly, the Commanding Officer of HMS Shoreham and Crew 5, summed up the deployment. He said:

“The last seven months provided many new and varied experiences for everyone in Crew 5. In particular, the contact we had with our key regional allies generated some happy memories, especially the visits to Saudi Arabia and Kuwait, not to mention working so closely and frequently with the US Navy. 

"This was my second deployment to the Gulf as a Commanding Officer and it was an honour to have worked with two fantastic crews full of professional and highly motivated sailors.”

HMS Shoreham is based at HMNB Clyde, in Faslane, but is permanently deployed to Bahrain.

The men and women of Crew 5 will now enjoy a well-deserved period of leave before they embark in Shoreham’s sister ship, HMS Grimsby, for a deployment to the Baltic as part of NATO’s mine countermeasures group.