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HMS Somerset Sails for TAURUS 09

HMS Somerset at the buoys in Dartmouth
The sun starts to set on another day
HMS Bulwark with HMS Argyll, HMS Somerset and FNS Dupleix berthed in background in Grand Harbour, Valletta

Early 2009 has seen HMS Somerset successfully regenerate to become a key asset for a major Royal Navy deployment, TAURUS 09

On returning from Christmas leave, she sailed immediately for a Recovery and Trials Period before starting an intensive 5 ½ week Directed Continuation Training (DCT) period to prepare the ship for the TAURUS 09 Task Group deployment.  One of the highlights of the training period was a high-profile visit to Dartmouth from 23 Jan – 25 Jan 09.  This provided an opportunity to practice and demonstrate the procedures and routines that she would implement during forthcoming foreign port visits to support defence diplomacy.

The Ship’s Company formed up in Procedure Alpha as the ship made her way up the picturesque River Dart, providing an impressive spectacle for members of the public gathered on the banks. Somerset moored to buoys in the middle of the river, providing an imposing backdrop for the town.

On the evening of 23 Jan, guests from the local community were invited onboard HMS Somerset for an official reception and capability demonstration. These events provided guests with the opportunity to discuss the ship, her programme and to find out what the Royal Navy is doing around the world.  They were treated to an exciting demonstration of the ship’s war-fighting capabilities as they observed a simulated combat scenario unfold from the Operations Room and the Bridge.

On 24 Jan the Commanding Officer, Commander Andrew Burns, hosted a private lunch for local dignitaries; including the Commodore of BRNC, Commodore Jake Moores, as well as Mr Anthony Steen, MP for Totnes. That evening, the CO led a number of the Ship’s Company in attending an official reception as guests of Kingswear Parish Council.

Over this weekend, the Ship’s Company made the most of the opportunity for rest and relaxation in Dartmouth, including taking part in a friendly fixture with the local BRNC football team. Throughout the stay, the sailors were warmly welcomed by the local community.

On 25 Jan HMS Somerset was open to visitors.  Exactly 1000 members of the general public of all ages were given tours of the ship during which they gained an insight into life onboard and the role of the Royal Navy at home and abroad. The tours were well received, enhancing the profile and image of the Royal Navy. HMS Somerset departed with the goodwill of the people of Dartmouth that afternoon, to continue her sea training programme in preparation for deployment.

This was successfully completed on 11 Feb and immediately Somerset began her vital pre-deployment preparations including a full ammunitioning, essential training for individual members of the Ship’s Company and a major store ship.

A week later, on Thu 19 Feb, Somerset sailed from a cold and wet Devonport and headed south to embark on the Royal Navy’s largest deployment in a decade, expecting to cover 20,400 miles in six months. The first week was high tempo as the Task Group commenced the process of integration. After sailing Somerset conducted a successful Sea Wolf shoot; seen as a good omen for the deployment. The following days saw Somerset continue to integrate within the Task Group and conduct an array of exercises, in particularly for Anti-Submarine Warfare (ASW).  The ship’s ASW capabilities were thoroughly tested, proving both the 2050 sonar system and the impressive 2087 towed array, initiating the ASW tactical development that is a major theme of the deployment. 

On Fri 27 Feb, Somerset arrived in the impressive Grand Harbour of the Maltese capital, Valetta.  She accompanied Bulwark, Argyll and the French Naval Ship DUPLEIX for a well earned Operation Stand Down period.  The Task Group was able to make the most of the opportunities to integrate socially, on the football and rugby fields and professionally through various planning meetings. 

Somerset is now fully settled into the TAURUS 09 deployment and looking forward to the challenges ahead.

Her Commanding Officer said, ‘This demanding and professionally satisfying period has ensured HMS Somerset and her Ship’s Company are well prepared for our deployment East of Suez, and they are already making a major contribution to the success of TAURUS 09”.