HMS LEDBURY blows up a WW2 mine
HMS LEDBURY concludes deployment with a bang
Or two! German WW2 mines located and destroyed...
Last week, Royal Navy mine hunter HMS Ledbury concluded her deployment with a splash when the NATO group she was operating with were tasked to clear historic ordnance that still litters the seabed near the northern French port of Dieppe. Despite high winds and rough seas, Ledbury located numerous WW2 German mines and bombs, and was ordered to the blow up the two largest and most dangerous mines. The ship returns today Wednesday 3 December following a four month deployment to the Mediterranean as part of NATO’s Standing Mine Countermeasures Force 1. Since leaving home at the end of July, the ship has travelled as far afield as Greece and southern Morocco. Ledbury has been part of an integrated Mine Countermeasures Force of other mine hunters from Germany, Estonia, Belgium, the Netherlands, Norway, France, Italy, and Spain.
HMS Ledbury’s Commanding Officer Lt Cdr Chris Nelson RN, who joined the Ship at the beginning of her trip, said;
“Ledbury has had a cracking deployment to the Mediterranean. It has been fantastic to operate closely with our NATO allies and get to practise mine hunting – the Ship’s raison d’etre – in dynamic and intense environments that have really tested the Ship’s Company. Ledbury has achieved every task asked of her and it was brilliant to finish the deployment with a real ‘bang’ – when we destroyed two huge World War 2 mines off the French coast. Everyone is now looking forward to some well-earned time at home with our families and friends.”
Throughout her time away, HMS Ledbury exercised her capabilities as a mine hunter in conditions and environments that have challenged her team and their equipment. The ship has hunted exercise mines laid off the French, Italian and Greek coastlines using the remote controlled submersibles while her Mine Clearance Diving Team has been deployed and have found a variety of sea and air dropped mines. Ledbury even found the wreck of a WW2 German bomber aircraft off the Italian port of Taranto.
Ledbury has also been very busy with other exercises that have tested her ability to function as an all-round warship. Ledbury’s gunnery teams have continually proved themselves to be deadly accurate during many gunnery shoots. One highlight was when the Ship’s gunners sank all four targets laid for the whole group to shoot at. The Ship has carried out manoeuvres and replenishments with her counterpart units, transferred stores and personnel by helicopter winch. Numerous internal exercises have made sure that Ledbury’s ability to fight fires and repair damage remains top line.
Members of the Ship’s Company, many of whom have never been away from UK waters before, have savoured the opportunity to practise their professional skills and work with other navies. They have also enjoyed the numerous weekend visits the Ship has made around the Mediterranean – like sightseeing in Pisa, paint-balling in Cartagena, or scuba-diving near Toulon.
Other highlights have included leading the group through the Strait of Messina between Italy and Sicily at night, hands-to-bathe in the gin-clear waters of the Ionian Sea, and spotting hammer-head sharks in the Atlantic.