Displaying items by tag: Libya
#NAVAL ANCHORAGE – A Royal Navy mine-hunter HMS Bangor (MI09) which took part in Libyan operations last year, anchored overnight in Dublin Bay during the north-easterly gale force winds, writes Jehan Ashmore.
Unlike the majority of vessels which anchor in the south of the bay, she unusually took anchorage north of the main shipping lane for Dublin Port by positioning off Sutton South on Howth Peninsula.
HMS Bangor is a Sandown class mine-hunter and she is due to continue her northbound passage through the Irish Sea to spend Easter at her affiliated namesake town on the shores of Belfast Lough.
Her last call to Bangor was to celebrate Armed Forces Day 2010 and also in that year she called to Dublin, click HERE for that report.
On this occasion she will tell of her role supporting NATO operations off the coast of Libya. During Operation Unified Protector, the mine-hunter's task involved 120 days of non-stop action by scouring miles of sea bed off Libya as the battle between rebels and Colonel Gaddafi raged.
Built in 1999 by Vosper Thorneycroft, Southampton, the glass-reinforced plastic (GRP) ship and her 34 crew undertook the painstaking work. This paid off when the 55m vessel found a 2,400-pound (1000kg) mine and a torpedo lying on the seabed off the port of Tobruk in eastern Libya.
Both were safely destroyed using the ship's Sea Fox system – an underwater drone armed with explosive charges.
HMS Bangor is among seven of her class based at on the Clyde, Scotland. They each displace 600 tonnes and have a range of 2,500 nautical miles. For further details about the class, click HERE.
All three visiting vessels were to be made open to the public over the weekend while berthed alongside the Deep Water (Coal) Quay downriver of the East-Link Toll-Lift road bridge.
FGS Brandenburg is the leadship of the Type-123 'Brandenburg' class. For a photo of the 4,900 tonnes frigate arriving in the Grand Harbour in Valleta, the capital of Malta (in 2004) click here.
The 20,240 displacement tonnes FGS Berlin is also the leadship of her namesake class of auxiliary fuel replenishment/stores-ship. The 174-metre long Berlin class ship (see photo) also has the capability to convey containers. The last of the trio, FGS Rheinland-Pfalz (photo) is a Bremen class frigate of 3,680 tonnes.
Since the Libyan crisis started in late February, the Maltese capital has been frequently used as a strategic transitional hub-port for naval vessels, including several calls by the UK's Type 22 frigate HMS Cumberland (F85). Earlier this month the Type 42 destroyer HMS York (D98) was also conducted to assist fleeing UK and foreign nationals from Benghazi.
In addition to other navies, Valletta has been used by ferries chartered by governments to assist in the evacuation of thousands of fleeing foreigners, mostly from Europe, though many other emigrants from Africa and Asia remain stranded.
The Royal Naval frigate HMS Cumberland (F85) departed Malta today, to conduct a second evacuation mission of stranded nationals in Libya. In the early hours of this morning, HMS Cumberland had arrived into the Grand Harbour, Valetta, Malta with 207 stranded people, after departing the port of Benghazi on Thursday, writes Jehan Ashmore.
According to the Commanding Officer, Captain Steve Dainton, said: "The ship's company have responded magnificently. Ten days ago we were off the coast of Somalia conducting counter-piracy operations. I think it gives an indication of the flexibility and the versatility of a British warship and indeed of the ship's company onboard."
Following the first evacuation, HMS York was expected to arrive in the vicinity of the Libyan coast, should further assistance be required by HMS Cumberland. To read on the latest developments click here and this link too.
In addition the US authorities had chartered a fast-ferry catamaran to bring back stranded US nationals and other nationalities from Tripoli, the capital of Libya. The fast-craft vessel arrived in Valetta last night.
As the crisis was unfolding in Libya, HMS Cumberland was returning to the UK via the Suez Canal after completing a four-month operation in the Gulf, where her duties included helping to protect Iraqi oil platforms. The installations account for nearly 90% of Iraq's national income.
At the time of HMS Chatham's visit to the capital, the 1988 built frigate had recently returned to UK waters, after also been engaged on anti-piracy duties, while off Somalia.
When HMS Cumberland has completed duties off Libya, the frigate, as originally planned is due to resume her voyage home to UK waters. The British Ministry of Defence are to decommission the 23-year old vessel.
Both frigates are 'Broadsword' Type 22 Frigates (Batch 3) along with HMS Campeltown (F99) HMS Cornwall (F86). All four frigates were launched during the mid 1980's and have a crew of 250-sailors.
I am reflecting this week on a varied list of maritime issues which have arisen in my writings on marine topics.
Following recent pieces I wrote about the attitude of political parties in the General Election towards the marine sector, I had a telephone call from a senior Fine Gael politician and, lo and behold, the party included the marine sector in its manifesto, pledging to restore the Department of the Marine, abolished by Fianna Fail. I await post-election developments with interest.
It has been a good week for those interested in protection of whales and dolphins. Hundreds of dolphins were spotted off the Old Head of Kinsale, apparently following shoals of herring and sprat on which they were feeding.
In the Antarctic the Japanese whaling fleet was forced to give in to pressure to stop culling. The Japanese have killed hundreds of whales every year, claiming this was for "scientific purposes," even though it has been identified worldwide as for human consumption. The fleet was ordered home by its Government after increasing international pressure.
The Irish Whale and Dolphin Group published its annual report this week. It was formed in December 1990, dedicated to the "conservation and better understanding" of cetaceans - whales, dolphins and porpoise - in Irish waters through "study, education and interpretation." IWDG turnover in 2010 was around €300,000. It has dealt with up to 10,000 queries a month for information on its website. A total of 92 strandings of 128 individual cetaceans was reported to the IWDG in 2010. This compares to 137 strandings of 169 animals for 2009.
This week oil prices rose because of the unrest in Libya and David Surplus, Chairman of B9 Energy Britain's largest windfarm operator, warned that sooner or later oil will run out. BP is examining the possibility of building a fleet of carbon-neutral, wind-powered sail ships planned, to carry world trade.
On the international sailing scene the new AC 45, forerunner of the next generation of America's Cup boats was launched in New Zealand and had its first capsize. The wing-sailed catamaran is designed for speed and close racing, capable of making up to 30 knots, while intended to be handled in tight, tactical courses. An exciting boat to sail, it will also be very testing of ability. The first capsize of the new boat occurred on Auckland's Hauraki Gulf, hit by what was described as "a freak gust of wind," while the crew were doing maintenance on board before a sailing test.
Back in dock after the capsize
It capsized fully, ending upside down. Three support vessels were needed to pick up the crew and right the boat which was sailed back to its base in Auckland. There was damage to the wing sail, but no injuries to the crew. However, helmets may be an additional precaution needed for sailing these boats, which are to be used in the AC World Series! This will be a circuit of eight regattas for which venue bids are being made at present, with fleet and match racing, to raise the profile of high-performance sailing on worldwide television. Racing is to start in July, with regattas running until May of next year, leading into preparations for the next full AC series in the bigger AC72 catamarans in 2013 in San Francisco.
As the past week showed, there is always something interesting in the sea.
This article is reprinted by permission of the EVENING ECHO newspaper, Cork, where Tom MacSweeney writes maritime columns twice weekly. Evening Echo website: www.eecho.ie