UK Navy’s HMS Diamond has returned home to Portsmouth Harbour after more than six months away on operations, taking part in the international task group providing force protection to merchant vessels transporting chemical weapons and substances – intended for use in manufacturing chemical weapons – out of Syria for destruction.
On January 6 HMS Diamond left Portsmouth bound for the Gulf but in February the ship’s tasking changed.
HMS Diamond proceeded to Limassol, Cyprus, where a handover with HMS Montrose was conducted. It was then that HMS Diamond became a part of Operation RECSYR (“REmoval of Chemical weapons from SYRia”).
This operation marked the culmination of the diplomatic efforts to eliminate chemical weapons from the Syrian Regime and the adoption of United Nations Security Council Resolution 2118, which called for the expeditious destruction of the Syrian chemical weapons programme.
HMS Diamond spent much of her time escorting Danish and Norwegian merchant vessels, tasked with transporting chemical substances from Syria, as they sat in international waters waiting for each pick-up of containers holding the chemical substances.
HMS Diamond’s Command Team was kept busy hosting a number of high profile visitors keen to understand the nature of Operation RECSYR including Minister for the Armed Forces Mark Francois and Rear Admiral Frank Torjahn, Admiral of the Danish Fleet and Commander Task Force 420 who left holding HMS Diamond’s ship’s company in high esteem.
A key milestone within the operation was achieved on June 23 when the final pick-up of chemical weapons from Syria took place. This meant that the next phase of the operation could begin – to escort the remaining merchant vessel, the MV Ark Futura, to Giaio Tauro, Italy, where she would hand over most of her cargo to the USNS Cape Ray for destruction.
This was completed on Wednesday July 2. The remainder she is bringing to the UK later this month where that part scheduled for destruction in the UK commercial facilities will be offloaded.
On July 2, just under six months from having sailed from home port, and a little over four months from assuming tasking on Operation RECSYR, HMS Diamond’s mission completed when the MV Ark Futura entered Italian territorial waters.
Press Release, July 14, 2014; Image: UK Navy