Whilst alongside in Limassol, Cyprus on 13 February, HMS Montrose welcomed on board Sigrid Kaag, the Head of the Joint Mission set up by the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) and the United Nations (UN), to remove and destroy the ingredients used for the manufacture of Syrian chemical weapons.
The Commanding Officer and crew of HMS Montrose should be proud of their courage and commitment which speaks volumes for the UK’s vision for international peace and security.
She visited the ship to recognise the UK’s part in the Danish-led Operation RECSYR (REmoval of Chemical weapons from SYRia), in which HMS Montrose has been taking part since early January, and to hold talks with the Commander of the RECSYR Task Group, Commodore Torben Mikkelsen of the Royal Danish Navy.
Since arriving in the Eastern Mediterranean, HMS Montrose has been working alongside warships from Denmark and Norway to carry out escort and protection duties of two merchant vessels who are transporting the chemicals from Syria for onward destruction, a mission that has also seen close co-ordination with Russian and Chinese warships who are also operating in the area.
Talking about the role that his ship has had over the last month, the Commanding Officer of HMS Montrose, Commander James Parkin Royal Navy discussed with Ms Kaag how the ship is working very closely with her Danish and Norwegian allies to ensure full protection of the merchant vessels transporting the chemicals.
He explained “The Task Group as a whole operates seamlessly together. Having been re-tasked from operations in the Persian Gulf, my Ship’s Company and I are all honoured to be part of an operation of such global significance.”
After a discussion with Commodore Mikkelsen, Ms Kaag was taken on a guided tour of the Type 23 Frigate with demonstrations being given of the work of the bridge, operations room and the Lynx helicopter, all of which showcased the capabilities of the ship in a wide range of potential scenarios.
During her visit, Ms Kaag thanked everyone in HMS Montrose for the vital part that they have been playing in the operation of the coast of Syria.
She said “The United Kingdom’s contribution to peace and security through its significant contribution to Syria’s chemical weapons elimination and destruction, is most meaningful and significant.”
“The Commanding Officer and crew of HMS Montrose should be proud of their courage and commitment which speaks volumes for the UK’s vision for international peace and security.”
In an interview with journalists after her tour, Ms Kaag went on to say, “Just looking at the maritime component alone under the terms of the Moscow agreement, with the Russian Federation, the People’s Republic of China, Denmark, Norway and of course the United Kingdom, this is a unique multinational effort with several different countries working together to achieve a shared goal.”
After she departed, Commander Parkin said, “It has been a tremendous honour for Commodore Mikkelsen and I to have hosted Sigrid Kaag on board HMS Montrose today, and I remain very proud of the contribution that we have made over the past month to Operation RECSYR.
“My ship and my sailors are trained to a very high standard and we remain extremely confident of our ability to deal with any scenario that may arise.”
The Devonport-based Frigate deployed from the UK in August 2013, and is due to return home around Easter, after she is replaced in Operation RECSYR by another Royal Navy ship.
Press Release, February 17, 2014; Image: Royal Navy