The crew of Royal Navy Frigate HMS Monmouth started making its way back to the United Kingdom on Saturday after eight months at sea but not before taking part in a joint Search and Rescue exercise with assets from the Republic of Cyprus.
This was the first exercise between the Royal Navy, the Cyprus Police and the Joint Rescue Coordination Centre to take place since the Bi-lateral Defence Co-operation Programme was signed between Britain and Cyprus in Nicosia earlier this year.
The exercise, which also involved the Cyprus Police Aviation Unit, the Cyprus Police Maritime Unit and the Wildcat helicopter from HMS Monmouth, saw all units work together to rescue four fisherman who had fallen into trouble when their boat sank.
UK and Cyprus assets all took responsibility for an individual search area and movements were communicated through HMS Monmouth and then back to the JRCC.
Commander Ian Feasey RN, Commanding Officer of HMS Monmouth, said this was an excellent way to end what has been a long and successful tour.
He explained: “HMS Monmouth has been deployed from the UK for eight months, operating in the Middle East region to promote stability and prevent illegal activity on the high seas.
“Now we are on our way back to our home port, it is great to be able to exercise with partner nations such as Cyprus.
“The exercise was a great opportunity to work with Cypriot forces to hone our collective ability to conduct Search and Rescue operations. As mariners we must ensure that people of all nations can work closely together to ensure the safety on the high seas.”
Lieutenant Ash Morgan RN, Flight Commander on board the Type 23 Frigate, believes it was an opportunity that could not be missed.
He said: “Opportunities to conduct such valuable bilateral live training are rare. This exercise enabled all units to exercise together in realistic conditions and as a result it provided quality practice and proved that our two nations can work seamlessly together.
“Operating with the Cypriot Police craft was challenging due to the unfamiliarity but it was evidently enjoyed by all involved.”