The Royal Navy Hunt-class mine countermeasures vessel (MCMV), HMS Cattistock (M31) returned home to Portsmouth Naval Base, on April 17, 2018, following four months in the Baltic sea with Standing NATO Mine Countermeasures Group 1 (SNMCMG1).
During her deployment HMS Cattistock took part in a series of multinational exercises and operations, alongside her NATO partners, with the focus on clearing historic mines from the seabed.
The deployment saw the ship transit up the east coast of the United Kingdom, across to Norway, down the east coast of Denmark and through the Kiel Canal to as far down as the Channel Islands.
Lieutenant Commander Chris Hollingworth, the new Commanding Officer of HMS Cattistock, said: “Having joined the ship two weeks ago I’ve been incredibly fortunate to inherit such a competent and cheerful ships company.
“Their approach is entirely flexible and they go into everything with a ‘can do’ attitude. They’re truly a fantastic bunch and it’s an honour and a privilege to be appointed as their Commanding Officer.”
February was spent working in Norway searching the Oslofjorden for ordnance dropped during the Second World War to disrupt German shipping in Oslo.
During this period, the ship found a staggering 13 mines and torpedoes, accounting for half of the overall task group haul.
HMS Cattistock worked around the clock in subzero temperatures and often heavy snow, using sonar, Seafox and divers to identify objects of interest.
Whilst the battle to remove over 1500 airdropped munitions in the Oslofjorden remains ongoing, HMS Cattistock and SNMCMG1 have helped to make the area considerably safer waters for merchant shipping.
From there the ship held navigational training off Denmark, joint force protection exercises off Holland and then spent two weeks in Zeebrugge testing their seamanship skills in a variety of challenging conditions, including rafting, towing and damage control exercises.
In Antwerp, the ship and the crew had a change of command, waving goodbye to Lt Cdr Charlie Wheen and welcoming Lt Cdr Hollingworth.
With their new Captain, Cattistock proceeded to engage in mine clearance operations off the north coast of France.
For seven days, the team battled strong wind and tides, successfully identifying and safely disposing of a historic 1000lb US air dropped bomb.