HMS Westminster’s pirate-busters trained with their Kenyan counterparts when the Portsmouth warship visited the great port of Mombasa.
As well as exercising with local forces, the frigate was used to promote trade between the UK and East Africa and launched an initiative by Anglo-Kenyan authorities to keep tourists and mariners safe.
Pictures: ET(WE) Katie Shaw, HMS Westminster
A KENYAN sailor sheepishly looks around as he prepares to board Her Majesty’s Ship Westminster in the African nation’s largest port.
The Portsmouth-based frigate arranged some counter-piracy exercises with Kenyan forces when she visited Mombasa.
The Royal Navy’s ‘capital ship’ is about as well-honed as it gets in such operations; she’s spent the past few weeks sweeping the Indian Ocean for criminal activity, with her mixed team of Royal Marines of 43 Commando Fleet Protection Group – the Corps’ specialists in board and search – as well as the ship’s ‘home-grown’ boarding experts ready to pounce.
Royal Marines force a suspicious stoker to lie on the deck
“The Kenyan Navy are well trained, well prepared and brimming with enthusiasm,” said Lt Carl Isherwood, Westminster’s boarding officer.
“It was a delight to have had the opportunity to train with them and we have all taken something away from it.”
The focal point of the warship’s time in Kenya was the visit of the UK’s Minister for Africa, Henry Bellingham, who hosted a group of Mombasa’s business and trade leaders onboard to discuss the economic development of the Port of Mombasa as a gateway for trade to East Africa.
A cartridge is ejected from an SA80 rifle as AB(WS) Charly Dodds practises her marksmanship on Westminster's flight deck
Westminster was also used as the venue for the launch of the ‘SeaSafe’ initiative. This campaign will see the UK authorities, through the High Commission, partner with the Kenya Tourist Industry and the Government of Kenya to provide useful advice to visitors, helping them enjoy the Indian Ocean safely.
Continuing the theme of forging closer ties with the Kenyans; a number of sporting fixtures were played by Westminster’s sides against local opposition.
The debut match by Westminster Warriors rugby team was a hard fought affair against Mombasa RFC with the locals just edging the victory 15-7. The ship’s netball and football teams were also put through their paces against local teams.
Never mind the Pollocks, here's HMS Westminster... Not some modern art, but a night-time gunnery shoot. Tracer from the GPMG races out into the Indian Ocean
Also away from the frigate, several members of the ship’s company attended a memorial service for the nine Royal Navy personnel who lost their lives when HMS Brilliant’s helicopter crashed near Mombasa in 1989; the Lynx was carrying crew ashore when it came down in the bush about 20 miles outside the city.
Another group visited the Coast General Hospital in Mombasa to chat with patients and distribute small gifts to a variety of delighted patients in the children’s, maternity and burns wards.
“The hospital,” says Sub Lt Gez Tin, “was extremely well staffed with caring and attentive staff doing a tremendous job.”
HMS Westminster is once more back on patrol in the Indian Ocean conducting counter-piracy operations and making the high seas safer for those going about their lawful business.