HMS Somerset, a Royal Navy Type 23 frigate, and HMAS Darwin, a Royal Australian Navy guided missile frigate met in the Indian Ocean to exchange information and best practice. Both ships are currently undertaking maritime security and counter-terrorism operations on behalf of Combined Task Force 150 (CTF-150), part of the Combined Maritime Forces (CMF) based in Bahrain.
Commander Mike Smith Royal Navy, HMS Somerset’s Commanding Officer, hosted his counterpart, Commander Terry Morrison Royal Australian Navy, aboard HMS Somerset along with members of his Operations Team. Members of HMS Somerset’s Boarding Team also visited their opposite numbers aboard HMAS Darwin.
HMAS Darwin has gathered a wealth of valuable experience while supporting CMF, having made multiple drug seizures, assisted seafarers in need and undertaken regional engagement activities. Sharing this experience, and learning from fellow sailors, was welcomed by both crews as they recognised the value this type of exchange can provide.
Commander Smith emphasised the importance of shared learning, particularly within the context of a multi-national coalition like CMF. He said: “Working closely with our task force partners and understanding how we each do business is fundamental to continuing our success in combatting illegal drug movement across the Indian Ocean. As single units we can be successful, but by working together we will make a real difference in this region.”
Darwin’s Operations Officer, Lieutenant Commander Barton Harrington concurred. He said: “The cross deck [meeting] presented the opportunity to exchange ideas about coalition maritime force boardings at a tactical level. It was a highly beneficial meeting where we were able to share procedures on how we conduct our boardings.”
While ten years apart in age, the two warships have much in common; they are roughly the same size, have comparable operational capabilities and are crewed by similar numbers of personnel. They are also both celebrating anniversaries this summer. HMS Somerset was commissioned 20 years ago in June and HMAS Darwin was commissioned 30 years ago in July. Both ships and their crews are planning celebrations once they have completed their deployments later in the year.
CTF-150 conducts maritime security operations in the Indian Ocean in order to counter terrorist acts and related illegal activities, which terrorists use to fund or conceal their movements.