Rock solid protection from Navy’s Gibraltar Squadron

The Royal Navy’s guardians of The Rock have received a glowing annual report – just as souped-up HMS Scimitar returns to the water.

The Royal Navy Gibraltar Squadron successfully completed its annual Operational Sea Training – a week designed to ensure it is ready for operations in and around the UK’s overseas territory.

Across seven days, all 26 personnel from fast patrol boats Scimitar and Sabre and three Pacific 24 RHIBS, were put through intense training by expert assessors from the Flag Officer Sea Training organisation (FOST) inside territorial waters.

The men and women of the squadron were tested on firefighting, damage control, first aid provision, live weapon training simulations and responding to ‘attacks’ from small fast raiders.

The squadron’s performance over the week earned in a ‘very satisfactory’ assessment from the FOST staff; most Royal Navy ships or units who pass receive a ‘satisfactory’ score.

The Operational Sea Training comes after HMS Scimitar underwent a full service, both inside and out, and a fresh lick of paint.

The maintenance period, which required the 24-tonne vessel to be craned out of the water, included emptying and cleaning her tanks, extensive deep cleaning and a full survey to ensure she is safe to go to sea.

As well as undertaking an intensive week of FOST training, my teams also continue their core mission – conducting sovereignty patrols through British Gibraltar Territorial Waters and protection for visiting units, which included RFA Wave Knight. All of that amounts to a very busy, but ultimately very professionally satisfying week for my sailors.

Lieutenant Commander Kyle Walkley

Lieutenant Commander Kyle Walkley, who has just taken over from Lieutenant Commander Tom Loxton as head of the squadron, said he was pleased with how the training went – especially as it was carried out simultaneously with the sailors performing their ‘day job’.

“Scimitar and her sister Sabre have been out here in Gibraltar for more than 15 years, having served in Northern Ireland for 10 years before that. Lt Cdr Walkley added.

“Like all warships, they need lots of care and attention to keep them ready for operations at all times, so this annual period of deep maintenance is essential to keep them both ticking over.”

Lt Cdr Walkley joined the Squadron in August last year. Before that, he served as the navigator of destroyer HMS Diamond.

He takes over from Lt Cdr Loxton who will return to the UK to complete the Principal Warfare Officer course at HMS Collingwood in Fareham.

On his departure, Lt Cdr Loxton said: “I have hugely enjoyed my two years out here in Gibraltar, delivering on operations every single day. I has been without doubt the most professionally satisfying job in my career so far and I look forward to coming back to Gibraltar many times in my future career in the Royal Navy.”