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HMS Trent gears up for impending Africa mission

HMS Trent off the coast of Portugal
4 July 2023
On the cusp of front-line operations is HMS Trent – ready for a late summer in Africa.

Following extensive maintenance in Gibraltar, the offshore patrol vessel is now back to fighting fitness.

The third of five second-generation River-class ships Trent is permanently forward deployed to the Mediterranean and Africa to work with allies, uphold maritime security and fly the flag for the UK and Royal Navy.

Since late May, Trent has been back at sea, her 40-strong ship’s company bringing her back to life and demonstrating her readiness to assessors from Fleet Operational Standard and Training who first determined the crew were qualified to take the 2,000-tonne warship back to sea… and are back this month to prepare the crew for their next operational patrol.

That patrol will take the ship back to West Africa – a repeat of her summer/autumn mission in 2021 – with Trent and an embarked team of Royal Marines from 42 Commando training military and law enforcement agencies in the region and learning about the ‘pattern of life’ in the area of operations, crucial if you’re to root out terrorists/pirates/smugglers among the hundreds of boats and ships going about their lawful daily business.

Equally important to understanding traffic off the Iberian Peninsula and Africa’s western seaboard is the Maritime Analysis and Operations Centre (MAOC) in Lisbon.

With the ship berthed in Portugal’s capital the command team led by Commander Tim Langford, Trent’s Commanding Officer, headed to the headquarters, whose focus is on the illegal trafficking of drugs in the North and South Atlantic.

MAOC staff highlighted the tracking routes and methods currently used in the North and South Atlantic, where Trent will be operating in the coming year and discuss recent operations; a direct comms link will be established between the ship and HQ.

The visits to Lisbon and Naples were very enjoyable and provided the chance to meet with partner nations, which was a great experience. Pompeii was also a particular highlight.

Sub Lieutenant Tom Bartlett

To further that understanding of West African waters, Trent’s command team also met Portuguese Naval officers to discuss recent operations by their patrol ship NRP Setúbal – whose size, crew numbers and role make her very similar to the RN vessel.

Where do you go from Lisbon? Naples, naturally. After further training in the Med, the ship spent a few days in Naples, part break for the sailors – a donation from Greenwich Hospital Trust paid for a visit by crew to the nearby ruins of Pompeii – part ceremonial, as they supported UK Ambassador to Italy, Ed Llewellyn as he hosted an official birthday celebration for HM The King, and part operational, this time courtesy of the headquarters of US Sixth Fleet, who shared their knowledge of recent activity off West Africa.

“I’m delighted that Trent’s ship’s company was able to support such a successful visit to Naples,” said Commander Langford.

“As we look forward to our impending deployment it marks the Ship’s return to delivery of forward deployed regional and defence engagement”
Sub Lieutenant Tom Bartlett added: “The visits to Lisbon and Naples were very enjoyable and provided the chance to meet with partner nations, which was a great experience. The visit to Pompeii was also a particular highlight!”

Before she begins her West African adventure, Trent has some more bespoke training to complete under the watchful eye of FOST, integrating the boarding team from 42 Commando and embarking a team from 700X Naval Air Squadron to exploit drone technology while deployed.

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