Two Plymouth-based warships have been working together for the final time while deployed on patrol.
Historic images have captured HMS Cumberland and HMS Cornwall, the Royal Navy’s last Type 22s deployed operationally, operating together in the Gulf of Oman. This is the last time that two Type 22s will work together as both ships are due to be decommissioned on their return to UK.
HMS Cumberland’s commanding officer, Captain Steve Dainton, said: “Both of these ships have served our country well over more than 20 years in service. I am enormously proud to have been HMS Cumberland’s last commanding officer. But the name has been in use almost continuously for RN warships since 1695. The ship is the sixteenth to bear the name, so she has a proud lineage. I hope, in time, there will be another HMS Cumberland. In the meantime, we continue to focus on the task in hand before we return to the UK in the spring. As you’ll have seen in the news, the pirates are very active and an increasing threat: never has our job out here been more important to UK energy and trade interests in the region.”
HMS Cornwall is the command ship for Combined Task Force 151, the coalition counter-piracy mission. The coalition is committed to maritime security throughout the Middle East and suppressing piracy is seen as a key part of this. HMS Cornwall has embarked a coalition battle staff commanded by Commodore Adbul Aleem of the Pakistani Navy to take charge of this mission. HMS Cornwall has been patrolling the internationally recognised safe sea lane in the Gulf of Aden designed to provide protection to merchant vessels vulnerable to piracy. The ship has also completed roving missions into the Indian Ocean on counter-piracy tasking, with several piracy disruptions to its credit. Other recent tasks have included rescuing some Algerians from a damaged boat and providing medical assistance to merchant sailors on passing vessels who were in need of help.
Meanwhile, sister ship HMS Cumberland has conducted an enormous variety of tasks since assuming responsibility in October last year for providing maritime security in the Northern Arabian Gulf to the Iraqi Al Basra oil terminal and supporting the coalition’s aspiration to ensure Iraq can conduct this vital operation independently later this year.
Numerous maritime security patrols have been conducted throughout the Gulf, providing assurance to thousands of peaceful traders in the region whose living depends on the safety of the waters and ensured the safety of shipping lanes essential to the UK energy trade.
During Christmas HMS Cumberland supported the French aircraft carrier, Charles De Gaulle, which was conducting air operations into Afghanistan. HMS Cumberland has supported Foreign Office initiatives in the region. Now, having left the Arabian Gulf for the final time in its illustrious service, HMS Cumberland is operating with HMS Cornwall against piracy in the busy shipping lanes between Somalia and the coasts of Iran and Pakistan.
After demanding and successful final deployments, both ships return to the UK to be decommissioned in the spring. The Royal Navy loses the four remaining Type 22 frigates (all based in Plymouth) as part of savings measures taken under the Strategic Defence and Security Review 2010. HMS Chatham has been decommissioned while HMS Campbeltown is also due to leave the Royal Naval service.