Royal Navy’s Type 23 frigate HMS Monmouth made a port call in the British overseas territory of Gibraltar on the first mission stop of her nine-month deployment to the Middle East.
Accompanied by HMS Sabre and Scimitar from the RN Gibraltar Squadron, and with her Wildcat airborne to scour the skies, the Black Duke monitored activities on both sides of the Rock before putting into the naval base for a short break.
Accompanied by Gibraltar’s permanent RN presence, patrol boats HMS Sabre and Scimitar, frigate HMS Monmouth conducted a high-speed ‘sovereignty patrol’ of territorial waters, while her Wildcat helicopter ‘Black Knight’ did the same in UK skies around the Rock, overflying the peninsula and the airport at the northern edge of the British Overseas Territory.
The frigate has been equipped with heavy machine-guns – “50 cals” after their .5 calibre shells – to bolster her close-in defences when conducting counter trafficking and smuggling patrols in the Mediterranean and Indian Ocean.
Monmouth is the first Type 23 to be equipped with the guns, mounted on the bridge wing and tested in open waters off the Portuguese coast.
Also tested was her ScanEagle miniature eyes in the sky; the small drone has proved to be a crucial asset in monitoring shipping in the Gulf, beaming live camera footage directly into ship’s operations room.
On sailing from Gibraltar, Monmouth continues east. She’ll join HMS Echo on the international operation Sophia, the response of Europe’s military to the migrant problem in North Africa and the central Mediterranean, before passing through Suez for the core of the deployment dealing with terrorism/piracy/drug trafficking/arms smuggling in the Indian Ocean and Gulf.