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27 May 2010, 00:00
HMS Lancaster will sail into Portsmouth on Thursday from a successful seven-month deployment which saw her make a significant contribution to anti-piracy and counter-drugs operations in the Middle East.
As the Type-23 frigate pulls into port, her homecoming will be marked by the only remaining airworthy Battle of Britain Lancaster bomber which will fly over the 'Red Rose'.
HMS Lancaster's Commanding Officer, Commander Rory Bryan said: "HMS Lancaster has demonstrated during the past few months that the Royal Navy is willing and able to take direct action to disrupt and prevent maritime criminal activity in those areas of the world where safety and security of navigation is threatened."
One of the ship's biggest successes saw the destruction of three pirate vessels and fuel in the first action of its kind by a coalition warship. In April the ship's Lynx identified a number of pirate camps along the Somali coastline and, using that intelligence, the ship seized two pirate boats and destroyed them using the ship's 30mm gun.
A third 'mothership' was also discovered and had all its fuel destroyed by pouring sugar into the barrels. These actions deprived the pirates of more than 10 tonnes of fuel and prevented them from launching an attack out at sea.
Lancaster continued her success by maintaining security across the wider region, and while in the Gulf of Oman, Arabian Sea and Indian ocean, the ship boarded several vessels suspected of breaching international laws.
The ship's boarding teams also visited fishermen and merchant sailors to reassure them of the Coalition efforts to combat criminal activities, in particular narcotics smuggling - which was reduced drastically as a result.
Cdr Bryan added: "I am particularly proud of the ship's company's achievement in the fight against piracy and overall we have significantly reduced the pirates' capability to operate. More widely, the ship has also played an important role in regional engagement and forging closer links between the Royal Navy and our allies."
Aside from doing maritime patrols HMS Lancaster played a key role in encouraging closer liaison between navies in the Middle East. In January, representatives from the Saudi Arabian, Yemeni, Australian and French navies attended a conference onboard the ship, hosted by the Commander of Coalition Task Force 151.
As part of CTF 151, HMS Lancaster was active in detecting, disrupting and deterring pirate activity off the coast of Somalia. She also supported CTF 150, where the ship conducted operations in the Strait of Hormuz, Gulf of Aden, Gulf of Oman, Arabian Sea, Indian Ocean and the Red Sea to help provide security and stability in the wider region.
The Red Rose also visited a number of ports in the course of her deployment including Gibraltar, where she had the honour of bringing the new Governor, Admiral Sir Adrian Johns, to the Rock, Souda in Crete, Jeddah in Saudi Arabia, Salalah and Muscat in Oman, and Dubai in the UAE.
On HMS Lancaster's return to Portsmouth, the ship's company will go on leave before rejoining the warship to operate in UK waters.