HMS Somerset had an event filled visit to Muscat, Oman, midway through her six-month deployment to the Gulf.
Taking a well-earned break from her operational tasking HMS Somerset had a busy schedule supporting the British Embassy’s Queen’s Birthday Party celebrations, paying respects to fallen comrades and hosting both visitors and media on board.
Sailors and Royal Marines from HMS Somerset visited Cemetery Bay to pay respects to the British war casualties buried there.
The sacrifice made by these soldiers was commemorated by the laying of wreaths, two minutes silence and the playing of the Last Post by Royal Marines Bugler Gillian Forde.
Bugler Forde said: “It is a rare opportunity to be able to pay your respects in this way and I am honoured to be able to do so while in Oman.”
Later that day, the ship’s company of HMS Somerset were honoured to contribute to the Queen’s Birthday Party celebrations, hosted by Her Majesty’s Ambassador to the Sultanate of Oman, Jamie Bowden.
The naval contribution to the celebrations included a Ceremonial Sunset parade and a 19 Gun Salute as a mark of respect to senior Omani VIP guests.
The Ship’s Guard Officer, Lieutenant Tom Loxton, said: “It was a great privilege to lead the Ceremonial Guard for such a memorable occasion and we trained very hard to ensure it was the perfect conclusion to the event.”
The following day, HMS Somerset hosted engineering students from the Caledonian College of Engineering.
The visit provided a professional development opportunity for both the students and HMS Somerset’s engineers. The Royal Navy prides itself on the professionalism of its engineers and welcomed the opportunity to present the complex frigate to the visiting students.
HMS Somerset’s Marine Engineer Officer, Lieutenant Commander Shekhar Shrestha, said: “Opportunities to exchange ideas and experiences with fellow engineers are enjoyable and rewarding experiences.
“HMS Somerset’s engineers are always keen to share their expertise and explain the complexities of a modern warship to keenly interested visitors.”
Not wanting to miss an opportunity to demonstrate HMS Somerset’s capabilities, local media from Oman were welcomed on board later the same day to meet the Ship’s Company and learn more about the role of a Royal Navy frigate on deployment.
The time in Muscat was not dedicated only to work. Many of the Ship’s Company challenged local sports teams to football, rugby and hockey matches while other took the opportunity to visit the Wadi Shab resort or go diving in the waters around Muscat.
Speaking of the visit to Oman, HMS Somerset’s Commanding Officer, Commander Mike Smith said: “It was an honour for HMS Somerset to be able to visit Muscat. The UK and the Royal Navy have a strong historic relationship with Oman and we are very pleased to build upon this and to have had the opportunity to welcome our Omani friends on board.”
HMS Somerset’s current operational deployment involves her working with international partners, including Oman, in around the Gulf.
Her maritime security operations are designed to actively deter, disrupt and suppress unlawful use of the sea in order to protect global maritime security and secure freedom of navigation for the benefit of all nations.
HMS Somerset has been undertaking maritime security operations East of Suez since early 2014.
Press Release, May 12, 2014; Image: Royal Navy