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Baltic bangs for Pembroke as minehunter joins NATO force

HMS Pembroke sails in company with American destroyer USS Arleigh Burke
18 May 2021
Knuckling down to NATO duties for the next few months is HMS Pembroke which has taken her place in a minehunting task group in the Baltic.

The Faslane-based warship has sailed more than 1,500 miles from her native Clyde to take her place in Standing Mine Countermeasures Group 1, dedicated to peacekeeping in the waters of northern Europe.

Pembroke picks up where her sister HMS Blyth left off when she departed the group just before Easter.

Currently the task group comprises six ships – from Belgium flagship Godetia and Crocus, Estonia’s Ugandi (formerly HMS Bridport), Germany’s Sulzbach Rosenberg, Zierikzee from the Netherlands, plus Pembroke – under the leadership of Dutch Commander Jan Wichers.

Its three-pronged mission: show NATO’s ability to deal with 21st Century mine threats, help make the seas safer by dealing with historic ordnance which litters the Baltic and North Atlantic, and demonstrate the alliance’s positive role.

Pembroke took her place in the group in Klaipeda, Lithuania’s principal port, after an occasionally idyllic journey from her home base on the Clyde.

It is always great to work with our allies; everyone has different ways of working and it allows us all to learn and improve from the techniques of others. It is then great to share a drink with them at the end of the day

Lieutenant Toby Robson, HMS Pembroke's Gunnery Officer

“Our transit across the North Sea was unbelievably calm and sunny, I really enjoyed being able to work out on the upper deck and seeing as far as the eye could see,” said mine warfare specialist Able Seaman Phil Channon.

Fellow mine warfare specialist AB Ross Whitaker added: “It is great to get to see new places and the scenery is phenomenal, transiting through the Danish straits and right by Copenhagen was amazing.”

So far the ship’s company of 45 are enjoying their Baltic experience – and the ability, due to their size, to visit places some of the Royal Navy’s larger vessels perhaps cannot get to, or rarely call upon and looking forward to the eclectic international experience of a NATO deployment.

“Deploying to the Baltics has provided new opportunities for the crew; to see new places, support NATO and to work and relax with our allies” said Pembroke’s navigator Lieutenant Harry Long.

His shipmate, gunnery officer Lieutenant Toby Robson, added: “It is always great to work with our allies; everyone has different ways of working and it allows us all to learn and improve from the techniques of others. It is then great to share a drink with them at the end of the day.”

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