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Duke thanks RN and RFA personnel for Gulf efforts

Duke thanks RN and RFA personnel for Gulf efforts
6 October 2023
The Duke of Edinburgh visited the hub of Royal Navy operations in the Middle East to thank personnel for their continued efforts supporting regional security.

His Royal Highness – who is Commodore-in-Chief of the Royal Fleet Auxiliary, the Royal Navy’s vital support flotilla – called in on two ships operating from Bahrain, plus the Senior Service’s regional base in the Kingdom.

The Naval Support Facility is the hub for everything the Royal Navy does from Suez to the western seaboard of India, responsible for up to 1,000 personnel either at the base in Mina Salman in Bahrain, or aboard RN/RFA ships deployed to the region (currently three minehunters, frigate HMS Lancaster and RFA Cardigan Bay).
Cardigan Bay is at the heart of everything the UK’s mine warfare forces do in the Gulf region.

Although designed to support Royal Marines amphibious operations, she’s proved equally useful as floating headquarters and support vessel for the UK’s three Bahrain-based minehunters, as well as UK and allied dive teams and a home to autonomous mine warfare systems – among other duties.

Having been welcomed to Bahrain by the RN’s senior officer in the region, UK Maritime Component Commander Commodore Phil Dennis, Prince Edward was shown aboard the Bay-class ship for a tour and, more importantly, a chat with the ship’s company.

“I introduced His Royal Highness to the people on board who deliver the highest standard of operational maritime support to the Royal Navy – and our coalition partners, not only in the Gulf region, but throughout the world,” said Cardigan Bay’s Commanding Officer Captain Simon Herbert RFA.

“His Royal Highness’s personal involvement in the RFA as Commodore in Chief has been influential. It was a privilege and an honour to welcome him and detail some of the exceptional capabilities and flexibility that the Royal Fleet Auxiliary and RFA Cardigan Bay have demonstrated on operations.
“We have been enormously excited over this opportunity to welcome his Royal Highness and are delighted that he will be able to support and inspire our exceptionally talented workforce for years to come.”

One of the vessels Cardigan Bay is responsible for supporting is Hunt-class minehunter HMS Middleton, the Duke of Edinburgh’s next port of call.
Again His Royal Highness talked to members of the 45-strong ship’s company about their vital role in ensuring maritime security and freedom of navigation within the region.

“It provided an amazing opportunity for some of our more junior sailors to meet His Royal Highness and discuss Middleton’s contribution to ensure the free flow of commerce into and out of the Gulf over our five-month operational deployment,” said Commanding Officer Lieutenant Commander Alexander Knight.
“And as the Commodore in Chief of the Royal Fleet Auxiliary, we were able to demonstrate to the Duke of Edinburgh just how closely we have been working with RFA Cardigan Bay as part of the UK Mine Countermeasures Force in the Gulf.”

The visit concluded with a look around the Naval Support Facility itself – home to and workplace of several hundred personnel daily, offering key engineering, logistical and operational support to any Royal Navy or RFA vessel operating in the region.

As well as chatting with personnel, he presented four with medals for their long service and operational endeavours.

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