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HMS Kent visits Kenya and Bangladesh in recent port visits

HMS Kent arrives in Bangladesh. LPhot Dan Rosenbaum
10 November 2021
Sailors on HMS Kent have trained alongside Kenyan Armed Forces during a visit to eastern Africa.

The frigate had a busy period transiting the Indian Ocean, working with the multi-national task group Combined Task Force 150 on counter-narcotics operations.

And their time in Mombasa was equally hectic with a series of exercises planned with the Kenyan military.

Kent’s embarked Royal Marines of 42 Commando provided two-days of intensive boarding training with the Kenyan Special Boat Unit, a branch of the Kenyan Special Operations Squadron.

42 Commando deploy in small teams on Royal Navy warships around the world and provide the ships with the ability to intercept drugs smugglers, pirates and terrorists. Their specialist knowledge and expertise was on show during the training which culminated in a live boarding exercise with a Kenyan coast guard vessel.

On land, a team of Kent’s firefighting and damage control experts trained with their Kenyan Navy colleagues at the recently-opened Kenyan Navy School of Firefighting.

Following initial briefs, they oversaw drills and procedures building on an established relationship with the UK’s Portsmouth-based HMS Phoenix Damage Control and Firefighting School and the Kenyan Navy.

Commander Matt Sykes, Commanding Officer of HMS Kent, said: “Kenya’s inclusion in the Carrier Strike Group deployment is very much a demonstration of the deep and longstanding UK-Kenya relationship.

“We are hugely grateful to the government of Kenya and the Kenyan Armed Forces for their support during HMS Kent’s visit.”

With some time left in the country, Tsavo East National Park and Taita Hills Wildlife sanctuary organised safaris for the ship’s company to see elephants, giraffes and lions – a highlight of the deployment for many of the sailors.

Meanwhile, the ship were able to give back to the community by volunteering personnel to help in painting two local children’s homes.

Reverend Moses Muli, Port Chaplain at the Mombasa Mission to Seafarers, said: “I was very much touched with the humility of the sailors who committed their resting time to do something that will leave a mark in people's hearts.”

Kenya’s inclusion in the Carrier Strike Group deployment is very much a demonstration of the deep and longstanding UK-Kenya relationship.

Commander Matt Sykes, Commanding Officer of HMS Kent

HMS Kent’s visit to Kenya comes shortly after they completed a milestone visit to Bangladesh.

The ship received a warm welcome in Bangladesh – the first time the Royal Navy has visited the nation in more than a decade.

The frigate transited up the Karnaphuli River and was welcomed into Chattogram by the Bangladeshi Navy. Kent’s visit, the first by a Royal Navy ship since 2008, was aimed at strengthening ties between the country and the UK and showing the UK’s commitment to the region.

It also gave the ship’s company the chance to go ashore and enjoy a range of activities.

Cdr Sykes said: “We are hugely grateful to the Government of Bangladesh and the Bangladesh Navy for their support for HMS Kent’s visit. Bangladesh’s inclusion in the Carrier Strike Group deployment is very much a demonstration of the deep and longstanding UK-Bangladesh relationship.”

A number of ship’s tours were provided while Kent was alongside to give visitors a flavour of life in a UK warship. Meanwhile 42 Commando again shared their knowledge, this time with a joint training session with Bangladeshi Special Forces on boarding techniques.

There was also time to relax, with facilities provided in both the Bangladesh Naval Academy and local boat club for sport and recreation throughout, including a volleyball match against a Bangladeshi Navy team.

Kent’s time in Bangladesh concluded with a ceremonial visit to the Chittagong Commonwealth War Graves, where Cdr Sykes and embarked Chaplain Father Stephen Ashley-Emery conducted a ceremony among the World War Two war graves, attended by crew from Kent and their Bangladeshi counterparts.

AB Taylor McKenzie, one of the youngest members in Kent felt grateful and proud to visit the Commonwealth War Graves.

“Armed forces from two completely different countries coming together to remember World War Two was a wholesome experience and I especially liked the words of the Chaplain, who emphasized the importance of spreading love and peace. We will remember them,” AB McKenzie said.

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