American sailors get Bangor for their bucks during Gulf training

Crew from HMS Bangor gave their American counterparts a taste of minehunting RN-style when they struck out into the Gulf for a training exercise.

American sailors get Bangor for their bucks during Gulf trainingBoth navies maintain a permanent mine warfare presence in Bahrain – the UK two Sandown-class, including Bangor, for hunting in deeper waters, plus a pair of Hunts for finding mines in shallower seas; and the US Navy operates several Avenger-class vessels, among them the USS Dextrous.

The latter is undergoing an overhaul at the US Naval Base in the kingdom, allowing two of her crew – Ensign Andrew Sparrow and PO(Second Class) Mark Poirer to join Bangor.

Despite the two minehunting forces training side-by-side on an almost daily basis in the Middle East, American sailors didn’t necessarily know the specifics of how Brits locate, identify and finally neutralise mines.

Which isn’t actually too different. At the heart of the hunt in both navies is Seafox, a small, remote-controlled submersible which is sent out to identify mines located by the ship’s sonar, sending TV footage back to the operations room. If the device located turns out to be a mine, it can use an explosive charge to safely detonate it.

It was a real pleasure to have sailors from our affiliated US minehunter crew at sea with us. There is a lot we can learn from each other as we continue to improve our mine counter measures capabilities

Lieutenant Commander Ben Evans, HMS Bangor’s Commanding Officer

The American guests were also thrown into typical Royal Navy training exercises at sea:  machinery breakdown drills and an engine room fire exercise that forced the ship to Emergency Stations – when every single member of the crew goes to their pre-designated location and role to fight to save the ship.

Bangor’s crew simulated the disastrous consequences of losing all propulsion and suffering a casualty – an injured shipmate in RN parlance, a machinery breakdown to American sailors.

Throughout the drill, the US Navy guests were shown what each area of the ship was doing to fight the internal battle from the team at the Forward Control Point to the Internal Battle Coordinator in the Ship’s Control Centre or the command team on the bridge.

The Americans were on the bridge for the passage back into Bahrain – so they could appreciate the difficult conditions of negotiating the route back into the port at Mina Salman.

“It was a chance to show Ensign Sparrow the pilotage into Bahrain,” explained Bangor’s Navigator Sub Lieutenant Henry Kilby. “It gave him the chance to see which navigational marks are visible in real life, compared to the bridge simulator which he has been training in.”

Bangor’s Commanding Officer Lieutenant Commander Ben Evans said, “It was a real pleasure to have sailors from our affiliated US minehunter crew at sea with us.

"There is a lot we can learn from each other as we continue to improve our mine counter measures capabilities. We look forward to welcoming sailors from USS Dextrous on board again in the future.”