The Type 23 Frigate HMS Kent has started 2015 by stepping up the fight against international terrorism.
Having spent the end of 2014 working with the carrier task group of the USS Carl Vinson, in the Middle East, the Portsmouth-based warship’s focus for 2015 has shifted to the Indian Ocean and keeping seafarers safe.
Kent has joined international Combined Task Force 150, which began the year with a concerted effort to stop criminal activity in the Indian Ocean.
Warships and aircraft from Australia, France, New Zealand, the USA and the UK are being directed by the Canadian-led task group to step up efforts in the Gulf of Oman, Gulf of Aden – aka Pirate Alley – Red Sea and Arabian Sea.
They have been charged with building up a comprehensive picture of events at sea by monitoring movements, chatting to fishermen and other mariners, and working with civilian law enforcement agencies from Britain and the US.
The crux of the security mission is board and search, carried out by a mixture of Kent’s Royal Marines Commandos, who secure a vessel allowing the ship’s sailors to carry out a thorough inspection.
They are aided by a Lynx helicopter from 202 Flight, normally based with 815 Naval Air Squadron at RNAS Yeovilton, and unmanned ScanEagle, which beams live imagery directly into Kent’s operations room.
Commander Andrew Block Royal Navy, the Commanding Officer of HMS Kent, said:
HMS Kent has had an immediate impact on the international naval campaign to deny criminals the ability to use the sea to illegally traffic people, weapons, or drugs, profits from which we know are used to fund terrorist activities.
Task force commander Commodore Brian Santarpia of the Royal Canadian Navy said the collective effort of more than 30 nations working together in 2014 had reaped dividends for security at sea in the region. He said:
We denied international terrorist networks millions of dollars from illegal trafficking by seizing and destroying around 21,500kg of different illicit narcotics.
We also assisted in rescuing numerous fellow mariners from the dangers of the seas and promoted cooperation and coordination between regional maritime security agencies through leadership engagements, conferences and visits.
With the renewed support of the 30 nations contributing to the Combined Maritime Forces this year, we are set to continue this good work throughout 2015.
Press release, Image: Royal Navy