HMS Somerset has officially handed over her Operation Kipion duties to sister ship HMS Northumberland, after spending six months in the Indian Ocean and Gulf region.
The two Devonport based Type 23 frigates met at sea to transfer essential stores and key information to enable HMS Northumberland to continue the fight against piracy, narcotics smuggling, and criminal use of the high seas. Members of HMS Somerset Ship’s Company were able to pass on their experience and knowledge about operations and port visits, before exchanging farewells as the warships went their separate ways.
Commanding Officer of HMS Somerset, Commander Mike Smith said: “Somerset has had a hugely successful deployment. My ship’s company can be extremely proud of what they have achieved over the past 6 months. Even though Somerset leaves the Indian Ocean and the Gulf region, she will maintain a vital international security presence and continue to protect the nation’s interests whilst returning home to friends and families in the UK.”
Commodore Keith Blount OBE, Commander of the UK Maritime Component Command (UKMCC) based in Bahrain, said: “Since her arrival in the Gulf, HMS Somerset has made a significant contribution to Operation Kipion, in both a counter narcotics and counter piracy capacity. The Type 23 Frigate is perfect for the nature of the operations we conduct here, and this was proven by Somerset and her crew seizing one of the Royal Navy’s largest drug hauls in the region during her tour. I wish Somerset and her crew a safe journey home.”
While deployed in the region, Somerset was involved in a multi-million pound drugs seizure that sent a clear message to criminals operating in the area.
Able Seaman Caleb Eisenberg said: “The handover marks not only another step closer to home, but also the successful completion of our operations within the Gulf region. Knowing that we have been faced with many challenges, but still completed a successful deployment, including a major drugs bust, means we can hand over proudly knowing it’s been a job well done.”
Taking part in his first deployment was Weapon Engineering Technician Adam Cox. He said: “The handover with Northumberland marks the end of our operational tasking and the start of our journey home for some well-earned time with our families after a busy and challenging time away. The high praise we have received from shore-side Commanders for the work Somerset has done is great recognition for all the effort put in by the entire ship’s company.”