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HMS Iron Duke visits London as part of NATO Task Group

HMS Iron Duke London NATO visit
4 February 2016
HMS Iron Duke basks in a mixture of artificial and natural light as the sun goes down on a visit by a NATO task group to London’s docklands (that’s the ExCeL Centre on the left).

The Portsmouth-based frigate has just joined Standing Maritime Group 1 – one of two naval groups operated by the alliance for larger warships (there are also two minehunting groups; HMS Ramsey is operating in the Baltic with one).

It’s been more than a decade since the Royal Navy regularly attached a frigate or destroyer to Group 1 – which typically operates in northern European waters – but with increasing international tensions, the time for a White Ensign presence in the force has returned.

NATO’s senior naval commander, the RN’s Vice Admiral Clive Johnston, said the visit by the task group to London came “at a trying time. Russian maritime activity, shrouded as it is with uncertain ambition and unclear motives, demands a steady yet determined response.”

As well as the Iron Duke – which is assigned to the group throughout the winter and spring, including participation in Jutland 100 commemorations at the end of May – the group currently comprises flagship ESPS Alvaro de Bazan and the Spanish supply ship ESPS Cantabria.

The next ports of call for the group are Amsterdam, then Bergen and Trondheim for NATO’s regular winter air, sea and land exercise Cold Response (to which elements of 3 Commando Brigade are also committed).

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