A rendezvous in the Gulf of Aden between Pakistan Navy Warship PNS SHAHJAHAN, formerly Royal Navy Type 21 Frigate HMS Active and recommissioned into the Pakistan Navy in 1994, and the Royal Navy Type 22 Warship HMS CORNWALL, currently the Command Platform for Combined Task Force (CTF) 151, the counter-piracy mission of Combined Maritime Forces, provided the opportunity to conduct both collaborative training and reminisce about PNS SHAJAHAN’s former service. Pakistan is currently the lead nation for CTF 151, with Commodore Abdul Aleem of the Pakistan Navy in command.
The Commanding Officer of HMS CORNWALL, Cdr David Wilkinson, said:
“Our links with the Pakistan Navy have always been strong; with Cdre Aleem and his staff embarked on HMS CORNWALL, it was entirely appropriate to work with the PNS SHAHJAHAN today to further the cooperation and understanding between our two Navies. It also brought back some very fond memories for those of us who were in the Royal Navy when HMS Active was still in commission under the White Ensign.”
The day began with SHAHJAHAN’s Allouette Helicopter coming to collect Cdre Aleem, taking him back to SHAHJAHAN in order for him to personally welcome the SHAHJAHAN to CTF 151 and discuss operational matters with the Commanding Officer. A series of boat transfers swiftly followed, exchanging a number of personnel between the ships. In the group was HMS CORNWALL’s Executive Warrant Officer, WO1(MAA) ‘George’ Simpson, who had served on HMS Active as a Leading Stoker. Some younger members of the Royal Navy were delighted to experience an earlier class of frigate, including ET(WE) ‘Cass’ Cassidy whose father served on Type 21s and was part of the team who transferred them to the Pakistan Navy.
ET Cassidy said:
“It was amazing being in a ship that my father knew so well and that I had visited as a little boy – the memories came flooding back. I’ve taken loads of photos for my Dad and can’t wait to tell him all about it! And it was great to see her in such good shape and at the centre of Pakistan Navy operations.”
On board HMS CORNWALL, personnel from the SHAHJAHAN were given a series of briefs including updates on the current operational situation, piracy and operating procedures for the Internationally Recommended Transit Corridor through the Gulf of Aden. This was followed by smaller specialist groups for focused demonstrations in their own areas of interest, which culminated in a demonstration of HMS CORNWALL’s defensive capabilities against small surface contacts, while the boarding team worked with their counterparts, conducting a demonstration boarding onto the SHAHJAHAN.
There was an operational element to the rendezvous: PNS SHAHJAHAN has only very recently joined CTF151 so this was an ideal opportunity for her key personnel to be brought up to date with activity in the region, including intelligence, situational briefs and boarding training.
Cdre Aleem, commenting on the day’s events, said:
“The provision of security in the maritime environment requires close cooperation and well-established working relationships between international partners; today’s exchange between PNS SHAHJAHAN and HMS CORNWALL is just the latest example of our navies working to achieve this. It has been a tremendous success.”