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Medway gears up for hurricane season joining major exercise in the Americas

The UK’s Caribbean patrol ship HMS Medway played drug-runner – and drug-buster – when she took part in the region’s largest naval exercise.

Medway joined warships, coast guard cutters, patrol craft, aircraft and personnel from more than 20 nations off the east coast of Central America for the annual Tradewinds workout.

The patrol ship has been operating in the Caribbean/Gulf of Mexico and off the Eastern Seaboard since the beginning of 2020, providing support to the UK’s territories in the region such as Bermuda and the Turks and Caicos Islands, and working with allies and partners.

Aside from that support and reassuring presence role, the ship is on hand to support the fight against drug trafficking and providing humanitarian aid in the event of a natural disaster.

All of which are also embraced by Tradewinds, as well as some of the basics of naval operations (joint manoeuvres, communications, gunnery, search and rescue).
The 2022 iteration of the exercise was hosted jointly by Belize and Mexico, with Medway joining other participating ships on the island of Cozumel off the Yucatan Peninsula before putting to sea for the crux of Tradewinds22.

Throwing their hats into the exercise ring were ships and personnel from more than 20 nations – not just those with territory on the shore of the Caribbean/Gulf of Mexico, but also countries with an interest in wider regional security such as Canada, Brazil and Suriname.

Medway worked directly alongside ships and patrol craft from Mexico (ARM Veracruz), Canada (HMCS Harry DeWolf) and the USA (USCG Isaac Mayo).

After combined formation, boarding, gunnery and rescue, the exercise moved up several gears with counter-narcotics training as Medway played first poacher, then gamekeeper to test the ability of other navies/authorities in tracking fast-moving craft trying to evade detection… before demonstrating her own skills in strangling such illegal activity.

Exercise Tradewind is a key building block in ensuring HMS Medway’s preparation for Atlantic Patrol Task (North) Tasking.

Commander Chris Hollingworth

Able Seaman Kaj Carter, one of Medway’s seaboat coxswains, relished the chance to test his boat driving skills against formidable ‘opponents’.

“Conducting counter-illegal trade exercises as both “opposing forces” and stopping that trade was a great way to test my skills as a coxswain and the capability of Medway’s sea boats,” he said,

“Working with the US Coast Guard and Mexican Navy is an experience I look forward to repeating throughout Medway’s deployment and future exercises.”

Trainee warfare officer Sub Lieutenant Jack Hammond was loaned to two other ships to broaden his experience.

“Tradewinds has been a fantastic opportunity to hone the skills I have learned over the last eight months, but spending time on HMCS Harry DeWolf and USCG Isaac Mayo on exchange proved professionally and personally rewarding – especially with the Isaac Mayo allowing me to take to the helm,” he said.

With the Atlantic hurricane season just weeks away, the collective training and humanitarian relief element of Tradewinds also forged links which could prove key in the event of Nature’s wrath.

Commanding Officer Commander Chris Hollingworth said his ship and the men and women aboard had made full use of an excellent international workout.
“Exercise Tradewind is a key building block in ensuring HMS Medway’s preparation for Atlantic Patrol Task (North) Tasking,” he added.

“It has exposed my crew to realistic scenarios and allowed us to work within a multinational task group. My team’s response to the training has been superb and has helped to build confidence in our ability ahead of real-world tasking.”

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