The U.K. Ministry of Defence has announced that a Royal Navy warship has deployed to West Africa to deliver training to countries across the region, aiding the fight against maritime crime, including piracy and armed robbery.
HMS Trent sailed from Gibraltar with an expert boarding team of Royal Marines and a Puma surveillance drone, tasked with increasing stability across the Gulf of Guinea through training, in order to protect around £6 billion of U.K. trade that passes through the region.
The ship – tasked with providing a regular presence in the Mediterranean and Africa – will deliver training to help partner navies take the fight to malign actors, fostering ties and sharing knowledge, whilst conducting patrols to increase security.
The deployment contributes to a wider international effort by the Friends of the Gulf of Guinea (FOGG) which supports Gulf of Guinea nations to implement regional maritime security frameworks, bringing stability to a region that has seen international shipping disrupted, seafarers’ lives put in danger, and damage caused to local economies.
HMS Trent deploys with specialist Royal Marines from 42 Commando, while a Puma drone can be launched from the ship to provide reconnaissance and intelligence gathering, monitoring an area larger than the size of Greater Manchester.
Lieutenant Christopher Windsor, Puma Flight Commander from 700X Naval Air Squadron, said: “I am delighted to support HMS Trent’s upcoming deployment to West Africa with Puma.
“The opportunity to deploy Puma as an aviation asset on board Trent will benefit our deployment as well as shape future tasking across the patrol ship fleet. My team is looking forward to testing this capability.”
Lieutenant Commander Mike Rydiard, Executive Officer of HMS Trent, added: “The integration of a Royal Marines boarding team and the Puma remotely-piloted air system in Trent is a first, and demonstrates our flexibility. It is a testament to a lot of hard work by my team in Trent and organizations across the whole force that have supported us. We are ready for maritime security operations and look forward to working with and supporting regional partners.”
Trent’s first port visit was The Gambia on August 5 and 6, where sailors from the Gambian Navy received training in firefighting, damage control, and seamanship. British sailors also supported them in maintenance of their newly purchased offshore patrol vessel. The ship then sailed to Cape Verde to test the ability to work closely with local law enforcement in the planning and conduct of joint boarding operations in support of counter-narcotics missions. This builds on a 2009 Memorandum of Understanding between the U.K. and Cape Verde which enables joint missions. HMS Trent will then sail on to the Gulf of Guinea to continue the maritime security operations.
Lieutenant Max Tanner, in command of the Royal Marines team, said: “My team and I are incredibly excited to be involved in HMS Trent’s deployment to West Africa.”