Fresh from a successful period supporting the Combined Maritime Forces (CMF) counter-terrorism task force, Royal Navy warship HMS Kent is now supporting CMF’s counter-piracy mission in the Gulf of Aden and the Red Sea.
No sooner had Type 23 frigate HMS Kent successfully completed her tasking deterring criminals from using the sea to traffic people, weapons and other illicit materials, profits from which are known to fund international terrorist organisations, the Royal Navy warship is now in action supporting Thai-led CTF-151 in the Gulf of Aden and Red Sea.
Operating closely with the Yemeni Coast Guard, HMS Kent sent members of her Ship’s Company out in sea boats, engaging with local seafarers in the Bab El Mandeb straits and explaining, through the Yemeni officers, how merchant vessels interpret their actions when they sail too close to the huge commercial ships. Mainly fishermen, the seafarers were told that bringing their boats too close to merchant ships may be misinterpreted as a pirate attack and could pose a risk of a reaction by the ship’s private security team.
During this tasking, with her Lynx helicopter and Scan Eagle Unmanned Arial Vehicle in the air, HMS Kent spotted a small vessel in trouble and immediately sent the sea boats to provide assistance. Petty Officer ‘Elkie’ Brooks, a marine engineer onboard, was able to use his technical know-how to fix their outboard motor to send them their way.
Commander Andrew Block Royal Navy, the ship’s Commanding Officer, said that the mission would not have had the same success without the expert advice and experience of the Yemeni Coast Guard, who came onboard HMS Kent to provide essential local knowledge to the crew. He also praised his team for their resilience and flexibility in adapting to a changing multinational command chain.
Rear Admiral Pakorn Wanich, Royal Thai Navy, Commander of CTF-151 was impressed with the outcome of the operation, especially in enhancing the understanding of the pattern of life within the Bab El Mandeb strait.
“The cooperation between CTF-151 and Yemeni forces has strengthened the counter-piracy effort in this region and I very much appreciate their professional interaction. Cooperation with local authority is critical in order to improve information sharing and regional capabilities in general, but also to reduce the misunderstanding between local fishermen and merchant vessels in Bab El Mandeb strait.”