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Prime Minister praises extraordinary sacrifice of sailors in the Gulf over Christmas

Prime Minister praises extraordinary sacrifice of sailors in the Gulf over Christmas
6 December 2016
Prime Minister Theresa May today praised the Royal Navy’s work keeping some of the world’s most vital shipping lanes free from crime during a visit to assault ship HMS Ocean in Bahrain.

The Prime Minister was attending the Gulf Co-Operation Council Summit in Manama, Bahrain, and took time from her schedule to visit the ship and speak with the sailors and Royal Marines on board. 

HMS Ocean was alongside in Sheikh Khalifa bin Salman Port conducting Exercise Pearl Dagger – a joint amphibious exercise with the Royal Bahraini Naval Force.

Britain takes enormous pride in our Royal Navy, known the world over for its professionalism and expertise and for the dedication and courage of its sailors, Royal Marines and officers.

Prime Minister Theresa May

Naval commanders briefed the Prime Minister on the latest work being undertaken by the Royal Navy to protect Britain’s economy and energy security by securing shipping lanes in the Middle East. 

“Britain takes enormous pride in our Royal Navy, known the world over for its professionalism and expertise and for the dedication and courage of its sailors, Royal Marines and officers,” said the Prime Minister, who addressed the ship’s company of HMS Ocean on the flight deck. 

“Perhaps more than any other, this time of year brings home the extraordinary sacrifices made by you and your families. So on behalf of everyone back home in Britain, let me say a huge thank you once again. 

“I know you have been playing a vital role in maritime security operations to tackle illegal trafficking and to keep shipping channels safe from threats such as piracy. The Middle East accounts for over a third of global oil – and around 15 per cent of gas exports – so protecting the free and unhindered flow of commerce on the seas is crucial to maintaining stable energy markets and ensuring the UK’s own energy security.” 

The Prime Minister’s visit comes shortly after Commodore Andrew Burns, the Royal Navy’s Commander Amphibious Task Group, has taken charge of the US Task Force 50 (CTF 50) – marking the first time the Navy has led a US task force in the Gulf. 

“I was delighted to host the Prime Minister on board the Royal Navy’s flagship,” said Captain Rob Pedre, Ocean’s Commanding Officer. “It is a great honour and privilege to command HMS Ocean and the last three months have allowed my ship’s company to fully demonstrate the flexibility and utility of the ship, especially now as the command platform for CTF 50.” 

Before leaving the ship, the Prime Minister spoke with some of the sailors and Royal Marines on board to gain an insight as to how different military units integrate on board HMS Ocean. Assembled were the ship’s company, L Company 42 Commando Royal Marines, the embarked Royal Bahraini Naval Force marines, 820 and 814 Naval Air Squadron and the CTF50 staff.

Able Seaman (Writer) Tess Farrow, one of those who met the Prime Minister, said:  “It was a real honour to meet the Prime Minister and hear her Christmas message to us while we are deployed. Visits like this are really good for morale. She was really interested in hearing about the Royal Navy and my role within it, and about how we work together as a team throughout all stages of the deployment.” 

HMS Ocean, a helicopter carrier and amphibious assault ship, will provide maritime security through continued presence in the Gulf region and a series of exercises with partner nations. Along with Type 45 destroyer HMS Daring, she will provide a continued presence following the USS Dwight D Eisenhower's departure from the Gulf.

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