The Flight Team
HMS ARGYLL returned to Plymouth on Wednesday 24th August at the end of a 6 month deployment to the Northern Arabian Gulf as the Operation TELIC Guardship. Working with coalition forces from the United States, Australia and Iraq, ARGYLL has mainly been employed protecting Iraqi oil installations. Away from the media limelight, these installations are critical to building Iraq's economy as they contribute 80% of the country's total oil exports.
Under constant threat from terrorist and insurgent attack, ARGYLL worked hard to ensure the safety and security for the oil tankers and their crews, the merchantmen ferrying goods around the region and the hundreds of fishermen who ply the rich waters for their daily catch. This has involved regular "Blue light patrols" of the area including boarding 65 merchant vessels to verify their cargo. This effort and the diplomatic manner in which ARGYLL conducted all of her duties earned a rare accolade from Vice Admiral Nichols, Head of the Coalition Maritime Force in the Middle East. He said "Congratulations on a superb deployment….you maintained the integrity of Iraqi territorial waters and set the conditions for Iraq's economic recovery. I especially applaud your professionalism in training the Iraqi Navy and facilitating their integration". This view was also reflected by a number of high ranking visitors to ARGYLL, including the 1st Sea Lord, Admiral Sir Alan West and Commodore Steve Gilmore of the Royal Australian Navy, Head of the Naval Task Force in the Northern Arabian Gulf.
Commanding Officer presents cheque to Jim Davidson for The British Forces Foundation
Always predicted to be a busy, operational deployment, ARGYLL still managed to explore some of the delights on offer in the region visiting Dubai, Kuwait and Muscat. For many visiting the area for the first time it was a chance to enjoy the sights and sounds of the Middle East, bartering for presents to bring home and enjoying the unique atmosphere and cultural mix. Comedian Jim Davidson also entertained the crew, giving a very "Navy blue" performance in Dubai.
Keeping busy inside the ship, the focus for the crew has remained on what has been happening at home. Organising a number of events and a deployment raffle, ARGYLL has managed to raise over £1500 for the ship's charities (Argyll Ward, Derriford Hospital and The British Forces Foundation). The raffle also created a large amount of anticipation as all of the 180 members of the crew had a chance to win a Renault Clio. At the raffle draw last week, the car was won by a popular winner, Chief Petty Officer Brian Lloyd from St Helens, ARGYLL's Chief Shipwright.
HMS ARGYLL refuelling an Iraqi Navy Patrol Boat
The Commanding Officer of HMS ARGYLL, Cdr Will Warrender said prior to her return "ARGYLL has had a tremendously successful deployment witnessing improvements for Iraq that were directly related to our actions in the Northern Arabian Gulf. I am pleased by the efforts of every member of my Ship's Company for their work in a tense and often extremely hot environment. Our training and preparation for this deployment has proved to be successful and we should be proud in the knowledge that what we have done has helped the Iraqi people. Now though is a time for our families and loved ones who have carried on without us for the last 6 months. ARGYLL is not just about the 180 sailors on board but the hundreds of loved ones at home who support us and allow us to do our job. We are all looking forward to catching up and relaxing at home with those who are so special to us all."
For Cdr Warrender this is especially true as ARGYLL's return will be his first opportunity to meet his 3 month old daughter.
Shekhar Shrestha, Lt RN