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HMS Portland ready to support maritime crime-fighting operations in the Middle East

15 August 2016
Sailors on board HMS Portland are ready to start securing the seas having arrived in the Middle East.

The ship’s company of the Devonport-based Type 23 frigate have arrived in Bahrain, six weeks into their nine-month deployment.

Having made the 7,000-mile journey from the UK, they are now ready to begin operations as part of Combined Maritime Forces – a 31-nation partnership charged with improving maritime security and ensuring freedom of navigation for vessels in one of the world’s busiest shipping lanes.

On arriving in Bahrain, HMS Portland’s Royal Marine and Royal Navy boarding teams were whisked away for training by a specialist United States Coast Guard team.

The training covered weapons drills and enhanced search techniques which will help the teams in their efforts to stop illegal trafficking.

We are trained and ready for anything from high-end warfighting, to maritime security operations, to providing humanitarian aid and disaster relief if required.

Captain Paul Stroude

“The training provided by the US Coast Guard has been fantastic,” said Royal Navy boarding officer Lieutenant Mike Underwood, 29, from Halifax.

“They have an incredible facility and it’s really beneficial to share drills and techniques. The training has been an exciting taste of what is to come and the whole team is chomping at the bit. Illegal trafficking undermines local economies and offers an easy source of funding for terrorists around the world. I am proud to do my bit to stop them.”

Meanwhile, the ship’s command team has been busy with briefings and meetings with representatives of other nations involved in the mission as they prepare to take up their maritime security role. 

“We have spent the last six months preparing for this vital and complex mission,” said HMS Portland’s Commanding Officer, 43-year-old Captain Paul Stroude, from Wirral.

“Around 40 per cent of the world’s trade passes through the Middle East by sea, and my ship’s company is ready to operate with our allies throughout the region to promote stability, counter terrorism and ensure legitimate maritime activity may proceed unhindered. 

“We are trained and ready for anything from high-end warfighting, to maritime security operations, to providing humanitarian aid and disaster relief if required. I am immensely proud to lead my highly capable team in support of Combined Maritime Forces.” 

There hasn’t been much downtime for those on board HMS Portland, but the ship’s company have made the most of what free time is available by competing in flight deck sports at sea and participating in several fiercely-contested sporting fixtures ashore.

HMS Portland sailed from Plymouth in June to begin her deployment and travelled nearly 7,000 miles to reach Bahrain. On the way, she stopped in Cagliari in Sardinia, Souda Bay in Crete, and Safaga in Egypt.

On route, the ship’s company conducted maritime security patrols, essential training and final checks on all systems to prepare them for their deployment in the Gulf. 

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