The Type 23 frigate has paid a three-day visit to a naval base in Ghana building on the UK’s strong relations with the West African nation.
Portsmouth-based HMS Iron Duke arrived in Sekondi where she berthed alongside Royal Fleet Auxiliary ship Black Rover and the two ships hosted an official reception.
They were also welcomed by the Ghanaian forces with Iron Duke’s boarding team of Royal Marines and sailors spending time on one of the Ghanaian Navy’s patrol boats practising techniques and sharing experiences.
Lieutenant Ollie Behan, an Officer of the Watch and the Ship’s Lead Boarding Officer said: “I enjoyed working with the Ghanaians, they were keen to learn and had some interesting experience to share from their patrols in the Gulf of Guinea.
“Having the Royal Marines with us really made a difference and added to the professionalism.”
While in the country a contingent including Iron Duke’s Commanding Officer Commander Tom Tredray and the Captain of RFA Black Rover Captain Nigel Budd visited a cemetery in Sekondi’s twin city – Takoradi, to pay their respects at a number of Commonwealth War Graves. A service was held and a wreath was laid at the grave of a sailor from the Great War.
The service was led by a local chaplain with a contingent of Royal Navy, Royal Fleet Auxiliary and Ghanaian service personnel present and a Ghanaian bugler played the last post. The Commodore of the Ghanaian Navy Western Naval Command led the parade with the overall event lasting around 30 minutes.
After a short service of remembrance, the delegation was then able to wander around and pay their respects. One such grave noted by a Petty Officer from HMS Iron Duke was that of an Able Seaman Lowe.
HMS Iron Duke’s engineers were also given the chance to get their hands dirty with a trip to the Sekondi Naval Base’s mechanical workshops and training centre for technicians. In one room were sailors stripping down an outboard engine, with access to an injector test set, in another a group of junior engineers in a class learning about electronics.
On the final day the ship’s company were given a day off which 60 members chose to spend on a trip to the Kakum National Park. Here they took the opportunity to go on the Kakum Canopy Walk – a rope walkway 350 metres in the air with seven bridges joined with wire rope, aluminium ladders and wooden planks.
Following on from the National Park the group visited the Cape Coast Castle, which had originally been in Portuguese possession before being taken over and rebuilt by the British 1800.
On leaving Ghana a navigation and manoeuvring the exercise – a PASSEX – was conducted between the two navies, with an exchange of personnel to allow UK sailors first hand experience of local forces and their knowledge of operating in the Gulf of Guinea.
HMS Iron Duke left Portmsouth in June for a six-month South Atlantic deployment.
Press Release, August 1, 2014; Image: Royal Navy