HMS Ledbury has sailed into Poland for the start of a NATO exercise involving ships from partner nations including Norway, Italy, Belgium, the Netherlands, Germany and Estonia.
The two-week exercise will see the personnel take part in a number of warfare serials including hunting for dummy mines, diving, replenishing their supplies while at sea and air defence.
Testing the full capacity of the NATO Response Force it will also assess their ability to work together in challenging situations.
“I am very much looking forward to working with our NATO partners and integrating with Standing Naval Mine Counter Measures Group 1 during Exercise Steadfast Jazz 13, while also proving the full capability of the NATO Readiness Force,” said Lieutenant Commander Simon Pressdee, the Commanding Officer of HMS Ledbury.
During the five day passage from Portsmouth, and shortly before arriving in the Polish city of Gdynia, the ship’s company took some time to reflect on a famous historical Naval battle.
The Battle of Jutland took place almost 100 years ago off the North West coast of Denmark and was fought between Admiral Jellicoe’s British Grand Fleet and Admiral Sheer’s German High Seas Fleet. More than 8000 men were killed on both sides, with many more wounded.
As HMS Ledbury passed over the Jutland bank, a brief memorial was held during which members of the ship’s company read out individual medal citations for courageous actions during the battle.
Lt Cdr Pressdee added:
“To achieve a few moments reflecting with my crew on the Battle of Jutland while passing over this maritime battlefield was a real honour, as few warships are able to visit such an important place in Royal Naval history.”
The following day, Ledbury, a Portsmouth-based minehunter, transited ‘the Sound’ – a 45 nautical mile stretch of confined water which separates Sweden and Denmark.
After passing the Danish capital Copenhagen, the ship passed under the Malmö Bridge, one of the largest and most impressive in Europe.
Ledbury will, for the second time this year, represent the Royal Navy in a standing NATO Group, following a successful three months deployed with NATO to the Mediterranean this summer.
She will return to the UK in mid November in order to pay a visit to Swansea and will continue UK based training and operations before her ship’s company – Crew 6 – deploys to the Gulf in 2014.
Press Release, October 31, 2013; Image: Royal Navy