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HMS Shoreham’s crew swap sand for snow as they return from Gulf

HMS Shoreham Crew 5 pose on the forecastle
25 January 2021
Six months of demanding operations in punishing temperatures and challenging conditions are over for the crew of HMS Shoreham who are gearing up to return home to Scotland.

A combined exercise with three of the Royal Navy’s five other vessels based in the Gulf brought the curtain down on the 45 sailor’s tour of duty aboard the minehunter.

The Royal Navy rotates its crews through its four minehunters based in Bahrain, with sailors spending four to six months in the Gulf before trading places with a crew from the UK.

Crew 5 from Faslane-based 1st Mine Countermeasures Squadron took charge of Shoreham ­– after a period in quarantine due to Covid measures – in late July, with temperatures regularly topping 45°C and high humidity, making for exhausting conditions on deck, and testing air conditioning and cooling systems aboard to the limit.

And by the time they’d completed their six months, temperatures were a pleasant high teens/low 20s.

In between, came the challenge of a double engine change and dry docking for work on the hull, regular patrols as part of the international effort to keep trade moving freely in the region, and exercises to ensure the mine warfare team remained at the top of their game.

The largest of the latter took place just before Christmas when Shoreham joined an Anglo-American force to head up the coast for the first naval operation alongside the Kuwaiti Navy since the beginning of the pandemic.

Christmas was spent alongside at the UK’s Naval Support Facility in Bahrain and a few days to enjoy adventurous training in the kingdom, but otherwise the tempo for Shoreham has rarely slackened.

This has been my first deployment and I have thoroughly enjoyed every moment of it

Sub Lieutenant Samuel Charleston

Her last major test was working alongside frigate HMS Montrose as part of a test of the Royal Navy’s Bahrain-based force to work together to protect UK interests from any threats above or below the waves.

Crew 5’s Marine Engineering Department was recognised by the Senior Naval Engineering Officer in his annual commendations. And the senior US Navy officer in the Middle East, Fifth Fleet Commander Vice Admiral Samuel J. Paparo, and the UK’s Chief of Defence Staff General Sir Nick Carter have both visited the ship to learn about the work of the RN’s Gulf-based minehunting force.

“This has been my first deployment and I have thoroughly enjoyed every moment of it,” said Sub Lieutenant Samuel Charleston, assistant to Shoreham’s Executive Officer.

“Highlights for me include watching the 30mm firing and joining the Dive Team in the seaboat. I’ve had the chance to develop myself both professionally and personally.

“Despite not being able to leave the base, the crew have managed to make their own fun. I’m still looking forward to going home, though!”

He and his shipmates are handing over to the MCM1’s Crew 7 before returning to the UK for some well-earned leave. Later this year they will go through a re-generating process ahead of a return to the Gulf. 

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