HMS Penzance has taken part in a two-week exercise off the Sardinian coast as part of her ongoing NATO work in the region.
Known as exercise Brilliant Mariner 13 the exercise involved warships from seven different NATO nations and ranged in size from the giant Italian aircraft carrier Cavour with the embarked Task Force Commander through to helicopter carriers and submarines down to the 6 Mine Counter Measure (MCM) vessels.
A total of 27 ships took part in the exercise, the largest exercise of its kind conducted in Italian waters for 15 years and forms a part of Penzance’ work with the Standing NATO Mine Countermeasure Group 2 (SNMCMG2).
The exercise involved route survey, hunting, diving and lead through operations for the MCMs who also discovered live historical ordnance in the approaches to the port of Cagliari during the exercise.
The Mine hunter group was supported by the Italian frigate ITS Aliseo who provided the space for the MCM Command Staff and also provided the group with fuel and engineering support as the ships rafted up to be resupplied.
“It was a unique experience to see just so many warships working together in one place,” said Sub-Lieutenant Rich Burbidge, a Young Officer under Training conducting his Fleet Time.
“It is an impressive reminder of the capability of a multi-national Task Group such as this can bring to a situation.”
Penzance’ role in SNMCMG2 provided just one element of the wider exercise, and the mine hunting task group now continues their ongoing tasking in the wider Mediterranean.
“Brilliant Mariner proved the value of having a dedicated mine clearance task force with our NATO partners,” said Lieutenant Commander Nick Unwin, Commanding Officer HMS Penzance.
“Over the two weeks, the force cleared shipping lanes to keep the sea safe from mines and allow that vital movement of maritime trade which is key to the protection of the economy.
“A fictional exercise like this helps us prepare for reality and proves that working with our partners keeps the seas safe.”
HMS Penzance has been on task with SNMCMG2 since 21 September and will remain the UK’s standing commitment to the NATO group until December where after she will be relieved by HMS Brocklesby.
Press Release, October 17, 2013; Image: Royal Navy