The UK Royal Navy minehunters HMS Blyth (M111) and HMS Ledbury (M30) along with the Royal Fleet Auxiliary (RFA) landing ship RFA Cardigan Bay (L3009) arrived in Doha, Qatar for a scheduled port visit.
The Bahrain-based force made the 120-mile journey from the kingdom to the emirate and were granted a plum berth bang in the heart of the Qatari capital – the newly-opened cruise liner jetty.
Barely were the gangways across to dry land than the ships were overrun with youngsters and teachers from Doha English School who were given tours of the three vessels as they learned what life is like for sailors on board.
And on a more practical level, British sailors discussed joint operations with their Qatari counterparts, in particular mine warfare.
The Qatari Emiri Navy operates well over 70 vessels – mostly patrol craft, although it is investing in a helicopter assault ship and – to safeguard its 350-mile coastline and territorial waters, but doesn’t possess any minehunters, a branch of warfare in which the RN is widely-regarded as a world leader.
Visit over, Blyth and Ledbury sailed with Qatari ship Al Ghariyah to carry out a short exercise to prove their ability to work with each other and help develop common understanding and skills.
The crews of Blyth and Ledbury are drawing to the end of their time in the Gulf, preparing to return to Faslane and Portsmouth respectively after nearly six months on operations. The visit was designed to advertise the significant mine warfare skills and equipment they bring to bear.
“It’s always a pleasure to open our ships up to visitors, and our time in Doha proved an ideal opportunity,” said Lt Cdr Louise Ray, Blyth’s Commanding Officer.
“We hosted and provided in-depth tours for MCM experts from the Qatar Emirati Navy – we’re proud to work with our Qatari friends to help provide security at sea.”
HMS Blyth is one of seven Sandown-class Mine Countermeasures Vessels (MCMV) based at Clyde Naval Base in Faslane, Scotland. HMS Ledbury (M30) is one of eight Hunt Class mine countermeasures (MCMV) based in Portsmouth and was launched in 1979. RFA Cardigan Bay (L3009) is a Bay Class Landing Ship of the Royal Fleet Auxiliary (RFA) service.