HMS Argyll has returned to her home port of Plymouth after 2 months overseas in the Mediterranean in the Royal Navy’s biggest overseas deployment for 10 years. The ship played a key role as the Advanced Force Commander for Operation Taurus 09 – a large amphibious exercise involving Turkish, American, French and Dutch navies. The ship also had a series of visits to Malta, Turkey, Greece and Spain.
The Taurus 09 Task Force Commander, Commodore Peter Hudson, summarised: ” The main objective was to exercise the UK ‘s Amphibious Task Group in a testing, challenging multi-threat environment – for both the ships and the Royal Marines. In completing Exercise Egemen with our US , Dutch and Turkish partners we have fully achieved this, enabling nearly 2500 Royal Naval personnel to hone their skills, to refine procedures and to demonstrate what a powerful capability the Amphibious Task Group can deliver.”
Commander Peter Olive, the Commanding Officer of HMS Argyll, said: “Taurus 09 is the culmination of several months of hard work and training by my Ship’s Company so that we were ready for everything that could be thrown at us. The deployment has seen us hunting submarines, covertly landing troops at night, visiting places like Malta which have such a history with the Royal Navy, as well as working in a large Task Group. It has been a rewarding time and one the Ship has come through with flying colours.”
Taurus has also provided the chance to show non-sailors what life in a modern warship is like. Soldiers from the Ship’s affiliated Regiment, the 5 Scots (Argyll & Sutherland Highlanders), were onboard for the first part of the trip, and took part in the Egemen exercise as “enemy” forces. As Captain Archibald, the senior soldier onboard, said: “It’s been a good mix of sea and shore – not only finding out how the Navy does their stuff but having the chance to show how we do ours.”
On the trip back, some relatives of Ship’s Company, as well as members of the Worshipful Company of Paviors, joined for the 5 days passage from Gibraltar to Plymouth , and saw a variety of demonstrations of the Ship’s capability and firepower as well as the arrival into Plymouth .
It’s not been all work, with a raffle to be “Captain for the Day” raising £125 towards the Ship’s Charities. Leading Engineering Technician Craig ” Milo ” Garstang won, with his first order being to raise the flag of his favourite Tottenham Hotspurs Football Club. Milo , who also hosted his brother onboard HMS Argyll for the first time, said: “It’s been great, like 2 worlds meeting. The 2 separate lives – home and work – don’t normally see each other, and I’ve really enjoyed it. ”
Having returned to the UK , the men and women of HMS Argyll will have a short period of leave before beginning a busy programme of exercises and training around the UK and northern Europe . The highlight of this will be a visit to the Western Isles of Scotland to coincide with the Highland Games at the end of July.
HMS ARGYLL is a Type 23 Frigate launched in 1989. Her weapon systems include the Harpoon Anti-Ship Missile System, the Seawolf Point-Defence Missile System, Stingray torpedoes, Sea Skua missiles, a 4.5-inch Gun, 30 mm cannons and Machine guns as well as a Lynx helicopter. Her main propulsion comes from 4 diesel engines for cruising and 2 Spey Gas turbines for fast sprints. This gives the ship a maximum speed in excess of 28 knots. The Ship displaces 4,500 tons and has a length of 131 metres. She has a complement of about 180 officers and sailors.