The Royal Navy warship HMS Cumberland arrives at her base-port of HM Naval Base in Devonport after six and a half months on anti-drugs and piracy patrols.
The Type 22 frigate sailed from Plymouth on the 24th May and on her deployment to the Gulf of Aden patrol during which she visited three continents and steamed 40,000 nautical miles while keeping merchant shipping safer from piracy and reducing the presence of illegal drugs on UK streets.
HMS Cumberland had a very busy operational deployment operating in the Gulf of Aden and off the coast of Somalia , in demanding weather. All of her crew have displayed the determination, ethos and team work, typical of the Royal Navy, in order to keep £43 million worth of drugs of the streets of the UK. The ship has also been a fundamental part of the effort to keep international shipping lanes safer from piracy.
HMS Cumberland’s commanding officer Captain David Dutton said “I am proud of the ship’s company for their resilience, effort, professionalism and determination in what has been a challenging period away from the UK . Our work has been in some of the most dangerous waters of the world. We have been protecting the maritime trade routes from piracy and terrorism and also impacting on the significant drug trade routes from the Middle East to Europe . Everyone on board can return home for some well-deserved leave after a job well done.”
The first visits for HMS Cumberland were Valletta ( Malta ) and Souda Bay ( Crete ) in the Mediterranean , these visits provided some rest and recuperation for the ship’s company and a final chance to prove the ship’s capability before entering the Gulf of Aden.
On leaving the Suez Canal HMS Cumberland entered her patrol operating area and the ship was battered by a south west monsoon off the Horn of Africa with 35 mph winds and heavy sea, it certainly was a testing time for all the Ship’s Company. The ship’s first drugs bust was on 7 July when HMS Cumberland’s boarding team searched a suspicious dhow off the coast of Oman , seizing 12 tonnes of cannabis resin with an estimated UK street value in excess of £43 million. Along with the counter narcotics patrols the crew has kept many hundreds of merchant vessels safe from the threat of piracy in the Gulf of Aden by her very presence.
Despite long periods at sea and a high operational tempo HMS Cumberland had a busy sporting calendar with the rugby and football teams having played games in Malta, Dubai and the Seychelles. However the notable sporting fixture was the crew playing Kabaddi for the first time ever against the Pakistan Naval Recruit School , PNS Himalaya. The team was greeted by a brass band before being briefed on the rules and tactics of the game – a bit like team wrestling within a fixed area. Initially, the experienced Pakistan team gained an early lead. However, the Royal Navy team worked well together and used teams skills and enthusiasm to put on a good show the final score was PNS Himalya 67 – HMS Cumberland 55.
Although HMS Cumberland had a very busy deployment, the crew raised £2,100 for charity. For example, they staged a sponsored cycle ride, cycling on an exercise bike for two hours while the ship passed through the Suez Canal and completed the equivalent of twice the canal’s 320 km length.