HMS Trent is bound for the waters of the Gulf of Guinea as she heads for security patrols and a mission to support allies in West Africa.
The River-class Batch 2 patrol ship is on an enduring deployment to the Mediterranean that has seen her operate as far east as the Black Sea since she left the UK six months ago.
HMS Trent is now turning her attentions south to the tropical waters of the Gulf of Guinea for the next three months as she becomes the first Royal Navy ship to sail to the region in three years.
With Royal Marines of 42 Commando on board, the ship will carry out a range of joint exercises and training to strengthen ties and develop plans for future operations in the region.
Trent will visit Nigeria, Ghana, Senegal, Gambia and Cape Verde, and will take part in French-led multinational exercises that will bring together international partners in the area, known as Exercise Grand African Nemo.
She will also conduct security patrols and support partner navies by helping to develop key maritime skills.
Commanding Officer of HMS Trent, Commander Tom Knott, said: “We are extremely proud and excited to commence this deployment to what is an exciting new region for HMS Trent.
“We are looking forward to working with regional partners and also engaging with local communities in an effort to strengthen security.”
HMS Trent carries on board a 17-strong contingent from 42 Commando, which will train partner forces in skills like boarding and searching of suspicious vessels, as well as evidence handling and medical skills.
This is one of the specialist areas Royal Marines of 42 Commando can turn their hands to, with marines regularly deploying in small teams to provide world-class training in a range of skills that can help nations counter illicit activity around their coastline and within their borders.
As well delivering training to partner nations, 42 Commando are experts in boarding operations helping fight against illegal activity like piracy, drugs-smuggling and terrorism.
The Plymouth-based unit deploy in small teams on Royal Navy warships around the world and are also tasked with rescuing isolated personnel – like downed pilots or British citizens at risk – from behind enemy lines.
“42 Commando are looking forward to the opportunity to deploy Royal Marine capability within the West Africa region,” said 42 Commando’s Commanding Officer, Lieutenant Colonel James Lewis.
“Working closely with our defesce partners we aim to provide a persistent presence within the region and deliver world-class training and support as they continue to suppress illegal activity.”
The deployment of the patrol vessel is a clear signal of the UK’s commitment to being more persistently engaged in the region, through which more than £6 billion of UK trade passes every year.
It has been coordinated with regional and international partners through the G7++ Friends of the Gulf of Guinea (FoGG) and Gulf of Guinea Maritime Collaboration Forum.
Later this year, Trent will attend a meeting of the G7++ FoGG in Dakar, Senegal, which the UK is co-chairing with the hosts.
Cdr Knott, said: “Continuing a year of forward deployed operations in the Black Sea and Mediterranean, HMS Trent deploys for a patrol of West Africa including the Gulf of Guinea.
“This deployment marks an important return to the region for the Royal Navy demonstrating our commitment to improving Maritime Security in the Gulf and support to the UK co-chair of the G7++ Friends of Gulf of Guinea in 2021.”
HMS Trent is one of five Royal Navy patrol ships dotted around the world in areas of importance to the UK – from the Indo-Pacific, South Atlantic to the Mediterranean and Caribbean.
Trent’s sister ships HMS Spey and HMS Tamar recently headed on a long-term mission to the Indo-Pacific. The two ships are deployed across a vast area, from the eastern shores of Africa to the west coast of the USA.
HMS Medway, meanwhile, patrols Caribbean waters and HMS Forth operates around the South Atlantic, working regularly around the Falkland Islands.
This is part of the Royal Navy’s Forward Presence programme that seeks to put ships in positions around the world ready to respond to global events.
HMS Trent finished preparations for her patrol to West Africa last week in the waters close to Gibraltar, refreshing skills following a period of maintenance and a rotation of crew.
Armed Forces Minister James Heappey said: “This deployment shows the Integrated Review in action. It demonstrates how a truly Global Britain is stepping up on the world stage to tackle shared international security challenges.
“Working hand-in-hand with our allies we are utilizing our forward deployed Armed Forces to tackle threats at the source, making the world a safer place for all.”