The UK Royal Navy Type 23 frigate, HMS Argyll (F231) has begun her six-month deployment to the Middle East a year after her last Gulf patrol.
After a dash from her homeport of HMNB Devonport in Plymouth via Gibraltar and Crete, the frigate has begun a six-month stint east of Suez tackling drug running and smuggling of other illicit goods and keeping the sea lanes open for merchant vessels.
Argyll will support Combined Maritime Forces (CMF), an international effort to clamp down on criminal activity across an area seven times the size of the North Sea; and the new International Maritime Security Construct (IMSC) which reassures merchant shipping in the wider Gulf region.
Since returning from her previous Middle East mission, the frigate and her 200 sailors and Royal Marines have been heavily engaged in home and European waters. From helping the people of Antwerp celebrate the 75th anniversary of their liberation, to demonstrating future naval technology as the ‘mother ship’ for robot boats at the DSEI trade show in London.
Argyll spent the winter undergoing operational sea training off Plymouth to prepare all aboard for the rigours of a front-line deployment, interspersed with engine changes and a complete rebuild of her galley.
Families waved the ship off from Devil’s Point in Plymouth on March 10, since when the ship has linked up with the Type 45 destroyer HMS Defender (D36) – returning from the Middle East – in Gibraltar, tested her sensors on the NATO ranges in the Greek island of Crete, then headed through the Suez Canal and into her operational theatre.
As part of her security mission, she’ll join sister ship HMS Montrose (F236), which is operating out of Bahrain as the pilot for the Royal Navy’s Forward Presence initiative to station British warships around the globe on long-term patrols.
This is Argyll’s fifth deployment to the Middle East after patrols in 2002, 2005, 2008 and 2018-19.
HMS Argyll (F231) is the third Type 23 ‘Duke’ class frigate operated by the UK Royal Navy. She was laid down in March 1987 by Yarrow Shipbuilders in Glasgow and launched in 1989 by Lady Wendy Levene, sponsored by the Worshipful Company of Paviors.
The frigate was commissioned in May 1991 and is currently the oldest serving Type 23 frigate in the Royal Navy. Argyll is the first Type 23 to be fitted with the new Sea Ceptor missile system.
The ship is scheduled to be withdrawn from service in 2023.