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#473319 - 09/25/13 05:50 AM British Naval Vessel In Belizean Waters
Marty Online   happy
The Navy Seamen from the HMS Lancaster participated in the Independence Ceremony in Belmopan. Many were wondering if they came just for that event - but as Monica Bodden found out yesterday, their ship had been docked off the coast of Belize for some time. She went to find out why they are here in Belize.

Monica Bodden reporting
HMS Lancaster - a Royal Navy Warship has docked in Belize Waters - About 15 minutes away from Belize City, we were invited out to sea to check out the Duke class Type 23 frigate, known as the Queen's Frigate. The ship left the UK in May and will be in Belize Waters until the end of the Hurricane Season.

It is here for 3 primary purposes - defence of overseas territories, counter narcotics and Humanitarian Disaster Relief.

Lt. Cdr Adrian Gubby - Weapon Officer Engineer
"We left the UK in May and we will be out here for the end of November, the end of the hurricane season. We are here for 3 primary purposes: defence of overseas territories, counter narcotics and also humanitarian and disaster relief, in the unfortunate a hurricane come to the Caribbean and damages any of the islands out there."

Lieutenant Commander Gubby spoke about overseas territories being a part of the United Kingdom and the importance of conduct these operations in the Caribbean.

Lt. Cdr Adrian Gubby - Weapon Officer Engineer
"It is hugely important because overseas territories are still part of the United Kingdom and we want to reassure that we are here to help them but also why we are here in Belize is because it's a Commonwealth Nation and we are still greatly supportive of our Commonwealth friends out here and we just want to make sure that you guys are okay."

"We left in May and we arrive in early June and our first stop was in Bermuda and then we came into the Caribbean sea and we've been here ever since."

190 are onboard the ship - and today the media was taken on a tour on the 5 floor vessel.

Lt. Cdr Adrian Gubby - Weapon Officer Engineer
"It's a 190 of us are onboard; 180 UK ships company and 10 US Coast Guard persons are onboard and they are here to assist us with the counter narcotics."

Monica Bodden
"Speak to us about the ship itself"

Lt. Cdr Adrian Gubby - Weapon Officer Engineer
"We are a Frigate and our primary purpose is anti-submarine warfare. That's what we are built for but these we are more used as a general purpose Frigate, so this year we are coming out to the northern Caribbean. In 2 years' time the ship will come out and actually do the south Atlantic tasking as well."

"We have a lot of capabilities. As a warship we are built to do anything we possible can do around the world. Our primary purpose here is the 3 things I have mentioned earlier. The helicopter is very much used in counter narcotics. We can't go as fast as the drugs runners can, however with the helicopter, you can do 150 knots. It can go much quicker than they can."

The Ship heads back to the UK after the Hurricane season is over.

Channel 7

#473556 - 09/28/13 06:38 AM Re: British Naval Vessel In Belizean Waters [Re: Marty]
Marty Online   happy


The interior of a warship is something that civilians usually do not get the opportunity to see. Today, however, members of the media and special invited guests were taken on a complete familiarization tour of a 432-foot modern British frigate warship, equipped with all the contemporary gadgetry and fittings, including a helicopter. The medium-sized naval vessel is making rounds in the Caribbean as part of a regional anti-drug operation launched by the Joint Interagency Task Force South (JIATF), a US-based multiservice task force, which coordinates regional initiatives to suppress the flow of sea-bound illicit trafficking operations.

A little after midday today, the group was taken on a fifteen-minute trip from the jetty in front of EuroCaribe on Fort Street to the present location of the vessel, which is approximately 5.7 nautical miles off the coast of Belize City.

The H.M.S. Lancaster, which is also known as The Queen’s Frigate, sits like a towering giant in the waters off Belize’s coast, weighs 4,900 tonnes and houses a 190-member crew. The tour commenced with a visit to the Control Room, where a 5-man crew is stationed to monitor the status of the ship’s equipment around the clock. The crew oversees the operations in the ship’s interior and also conducts reconnaissance in the nearby waters using highly advanced technological apparatus.

The personnel of the five-floor war craft operate some of the most modern sensors and weapons systems in the Royal Navy. The Warfare Branch comprises three groups; Weapons, Sensors and Communications. The Weapons group operates a vertical launch missile system together with a Harpoon anti-ship missile (used against enemy ships) and the 4.5″ Mod 1 gun (used to support onshore troops using naval gunfire). The Sensors group is responsible for optimizing the use of the highly sensitive sonar, radar and electronic warfare equipment to form a composite picture that is used to indicate the position of the enemy to the weapons systems, and the Communications group operates the sets that maintain tactical interactions, as well as ensure connectivity with shore headquarters.

Lieutenant Commander Adrian Gubby, one of the chief weapons engineers, told Amandala that they have been in the Caribbean for six and a half months and their purpose, in spite of all the warship’s capabilities, is mainly to provide humanitarian relief in the case of any natural disaster, to conduct counter-narcotics operations, and to ensure the overall wellbeing of the Caribbean Commonwealth countries. He stated that the frigate and its crew are here in Belize to reassure the members of the Commonwealth that they are here to assist them, because they (The Royal Navy) try as much as possible to support their Commonwealth counterparts. Gubby also mentioned that the ship’s crew is made up of 180 members of the British Royal Navy along with 10 members of the US Coast Guard.

The Operations Room, also known as the Warfare Nerve Center, is where information from the sensors is displayed. The captain, his principal warfare officers, and the Command team can see exactly where friendly and enemy units are deployed. From there, the captain then assesses the threat posed to the ship, or the force of the ships which the H.M.S. Lancaster may be helping to defend. The ship’s design incorporates many stealth features. These make the ship a difficult target for an enemy to find, but if it was to come under attack, there are several self-defense weapons which could be used. Most notable is the Vertical Launch Seawolf missile system, which engages aircraft and missile targets. Other self-defense systems include the use of cruise missiles and torpedo decoys.

The ship is also able to deploy two types of helicopters, depending on the mission. H.M.S. Lancaster can also be tasked in wartime to use its long-range Harpoon missile against enemy ships or to provide bombardment in the form of naval gunfire support to shore troops using the 4.5″ Mod 1Gun, a canon-like British naval gun.

Although the ship is outfitted with torpedoes, mounted machine guns and depth charges for varied forms of warfare, the ship’s role in peacetime is equally important, whether it is providing relief to victims of natural disaster, evacuating citizens from potentially hostile countries, or simply giving support for British interests abroad. While that is the role that it is playing at this time, they are here primarily to curb narco-trafficking activities on the high seas of the Caribbean.

The ship and its crew, as mentioned earlier, are part of a multi-agency unit which undertakes counter-illicit trafficking operations in this region. They left the United Kingdom in May of this year, and will be in the Caribbean until November 13th, when they are scheduled to return home. The tour was facilitated by the British High Commission in Belize.


#473989 - 10/03/13 06:20 AM Re: British Naval Vessel In Belizean Waters [Re: Marty]
Marty Online   happy

The Lancastrians ruling the waves on HMS Lancaster

The ever-present threat of hurricanes in this part of the world is brought close to home as you walk around the seafront of Belize City.

Locals here know the serene Caribbean lapping at the shores can quickly turn into an angry mass and with much of the city lying beneath sea level they keep a wary eye out for warnings.

But for a week, there has been another far more welcome addition to the seascape here.

HMS Lancaster, a 'Duke' class Type 23 frigate of the Royal Navy, known as "The Queen's Frigate", has been anchored off-shore ending a gap of over six years since the last RN deployment here.

It is here as part of the Navy's Atlantic Patrol North, covering a vast area and including visits to British territories to provide training and offer humanitarian aid should nature hit out.

In Belize the reduction in UK military training and the effect on the country's economy is a main talking point. An army brigade was once stationed here; in a country of just 300,000, the impact was significant.

Peter Hughes, the newly-appointed British High Commissioner, is keen to make more of the UK's links to a country he says is ripe for development.

"The problem Belize faces is it is isolated within the region. It doesn't fit into central America because it speaks English; it doesn't fit into the Caribbean because it's in central America."

Crime is a problem here and he identifies security as one of several areas where the UK could do more to help.

Lee Hill cooks up a taste of Lancashire for the crew of HMS Lancaster "They've got an internal security problem because there's been a huge wave of crime, (the government) they're getting it under control but it's much worse than it should be.

"We're going to do what we can to help them reform the police force and restructure the judiciary."

Offshore, the Caribbean is a main route for drugs passing from central America into Mexico and the US and Europe.

In August HMS Lancaster made headlines around the world when crew and an embedded group of US Coastguards - the Coast Guard Law Enforcement Detachments or Ledets - seized 22 bales (680kg) of pure cocaine worth £100m when they boarded a speedboat near Puerto Rico.

The speedboat was initially spotted by US Customs and Border Agency aircraft but it was Lancaster's Lynx helicopter that was launched and, along with high-speed pursuit boats, intercepted the speedboat with three suspected smugglers on board.

Lt Oliver Bekier, 24, from Bacup, who was steering the ship that day recalls the seizure.

"My job was to keep the ship beneath the horizon so we didn't spook the vessel. If they get wind of us being in the area they could ditch the drugs. It was a team effort."

Among the significant number of Lancastrians on board is Lee Hill from Blackpool, who has served in the Navy since 1984.

The the past 30 months has seen him aboard the Red Rose frigate, as Lancaster is also known - the flower being a prominent part of the ship's crest.

"Because it's Lancaster we put a slant on food so we served fish and chips and mini hotpots. It promotes Lancashire as well as Britain! To serve on Lancaster was something I wanted to tick off."

The ship is now back on patrol in the Caribbean as the hunt for 21st century pirates continues.


#474857 - 10/14/13 05:55 AM Re: British Naval Vessel In Belizean Waters [Re: Marty]
Marty Online   happy

Nigel Thompson on board HMS Lancaster

Life in the Caribbean aboard HMS Lancaster

HMS Lancaster is on patrol in the Caribbean, tracking drug runners, on standby should hurricanes hit and waving the flag for the UK.

BBC Radio Lancashire’s news editor and former Visitor reporter Nigel Thompson has sent us this report from the frigate...

There’s a framed picture of Lancaster castle’s John O’Gaunt gateway in the officers mess aboard HMS Lancaster but step outside, through the plate steel doors and out of the ships’ main “citadel,” and it’s a world away from north Lancashire.

Searing heat and a horizon made up of a cobalt blue sky and azure sea greats the eye while the whining pitch of the tuned diesel engines overwhelm the senses.

This is the mid-way point in HMS Lancaster’s deployment on the Royal Navy’s North Atlantic patrol; six miles off the coast of Belize in search of drug traffickers making the run from south America to Mexico, the US and beyond.

It’s been a busy period for the ship that’s seen them grab headlines around the world after they tracked and seized cannabis worth £100million. The ship is carrying a group of elite US Coastguard “Ledets” – law enforcement detachment – whose job it is to use Lancaster’s fast pursuit boats to intercept the so-called “go fasts.”

The ship has made several seizures making it to the most successful deployment in recent years.

“It shows the value of having a frigate here,” Commander Steve Moorhouse, HMS Lancaster’s captain told me during a brief layover off Belize, where local dignitaries and expats visited the ship whose presence here made local news bulletins.

The crew are coping with daily temperatures in the 90s and the kind of humidity that makes physical exertion outside, especially while wearing anti-flash protective gear as well as lifejackets and helmets, exhausting.

But if it’s hot outside, in the engineering heart of Lancaster, keeping cool is virtually impossible.

“You have to get used to it,” Andrew Bellis, an engineer from St Helens and one of the crew responsible for keeping the ship ready to sprint to intercept suspicious vessels, told me.

“It’s around 50 degrees here – you get an extra £2 a day so that helps.”

Down the corridor I meet Scott Williamson, an electrical engineer from Fleetwood, who looks after essential power supplies that help keep men and machines cool.

The frigate has strong ties to the county and north Lancashire inparticular and it’s a source of pride.

“There’s three or four us from Lancashire. About a year ago we had a visit to Lancaster in uniform which made me very proud.” The ship’s patron is the Queen, as Duke of Lancaster, and it’s known in the navy as “the Queen’s frigate.”

If an army marches on its stomach, then Lancaster wouldn’t sail far without good food and the man who’s in charge of providing it for the crew of nearly 200 is a man who grew up on the coast, chief caterer Lee Hill from Blackpool.

“We make sure all the lads get a meal, 365 days a year a day. We just try and keep the majority happy.”

Not easy when the kitchens are fairly confined – and you are several thousand miles from home.

“190 crew on board and every one of them is a chef...” he says, the day after the main talking point during evening rounds was the lack of a hot lunch.

Food for the onboard cocktail parties arranged at ports during the tour has been prepared to bring a taste of Lancashire to the serene Caribbean; miniature portions of fish and chips (which I’ll confirm, were superb) as well as portions of Lancashire hot pot have helped make an impression.

So what impact has the ship had on the area of the Caribbean many are visiting for the first time?

The drug seizures have doubtless made a difference – the quantities seized are significant although no-one here under-estimates how determined the drug runners are to evade the international effort to stop their trade.

Another reason for the deployment is to act should hurricanes strike the fragile defences of many of the islands in the Caribbean, although so far this season has been quiet.

But it’s the impact the ship has made in the string of former British territories that strikes me as significant.

Crew members have offered their services to help repair and maintain buildings, train coastguard and other maritime organisations as well as taking on hosts at various sports.

Who’d have thought fixing roofs on Montserrat or playing cricket against a Belizean locals team could have made such an impact?

After a tempestuous afternoon electrical storm (during which the cricket continued) Peter Hughes, the newly-appointed British High Commissioner in Belize, told me why the visit by HMS Lancaster matters in a central American country the size of Wales with a population of 300,000.

“The last time we had a royal naval visit here was more than six years ago and it’s sorely missed.

“Having the sailors around whether on or off duty does help in giving comfort and confidence in what’s going on. There’s a great deal of love for the British when the ships come in they feel a lot better.”

HMS Lancaster still has many miles to cover before the deployment concludes; the crew will be home for Christmas and told me they missed the changing seasons – after a while even Caribbean heat becomes monotonous.

When they do reach Portsmouth they’ll have spent six months flying the flag, for Lancashire and the UK.



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