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Royal Navy Fighting Clan Returns from Libya for Capital Engagement

HMS Sutherland in home waters off Scotland's west coast
 HMS Sutherland in home waters off Scotland's west coast
(click on image to enlarge)

Royal Navy frigate, HMS Sutherland, which recently saw action in the Libya conflict, will sail up the Thames to London on Tuesday (October 18) for the start of a five-day regional engagement visit.

Known as the ‘Fighting Clan’, HMS Sutherland has returned to home shores after serving on the frontline in Libya alongside coalition forces. While in the Mediterranean, she conducted boarding operations and provided naval gunfire in support of activity ashore plus maritime security patrols.

She deployed at short notice in April to take up her role as the Royal Navy frigate within the Response Force Task Group (RFTG, some elements of which still remain off the Libyan coast. Since her return, the ship has played a lead role in Exercise Joint Warrior, a bi-annual international naval warfare exercise off the north west coast of Scotland.

The Type 23 frigate, which is affiliated to the Honourable Company of Master Mariners – a Royal Livery Company of London – will sail under Tower Bridge at around 7pm on Tuesday night before berthing alongside HMS Belfast.

Although not open to the public during her time in the capital, the ship will play host to a number of senior government, military and civic VIPs at formal receptions on board, and will stage a capability demonstration for invited guests on Thursday (October 20) at noon.

The ship’s Commanding Officer, Commander Roger Readwin, will also make a variety of civic calls ashore, including to the Mayor of Southwark, while a larger group of the ship’s company have been invited to attend a Trafalgar Night mess dinner on board the Master Mariners’ Grimsby Class sloop, the HQS Wellington, later on the Thursday evening.

HMS Sutherland firing in operations off Libya
 HMS Sutherland firing in operations off Libya
(click on images to enlarge)

Commander Readwin said “We are looking forward to our duties in the City of London and renewing our strong links with the charitable organisation, the Company of Master Mariners. Sutherland is here to highlight the flexibility of the Royal Navy and my team look forward to recounting the busy year we have had.

“It is an honour to be alongside HMS Belfast 40 years after she was opened to the public and during the annual Naval Battle of Trafalgar celebrations”

Powerful and versatile with the capability to operate anywhere in the world, the Type 23 frigate is the mainstay of the modern surface fleet.

The effectiveness of these ships is enhanced by their stealth design, which significantly reduces their radar signature and enables her to search for submarines using her state of the art sonar systems.

In addition to the war fighting roles described above, the ship is trained to conduct a wide range of other tasks. These include embargo operations using boarding teams inserted from the ship's boats or helicopter, disaster relief work and surveillance operations.

The present HMS Sutherland is the third to bear the name and has seen service all over the world, from the frozen seas of both the Arctic and the South Atlantic to the tropical heat of the Caribbean and the Far East.

Sutherland was built by Yarrow Shipbuilders Limited on the Clyde and was launched in 1996 by Lady Christina Walmsley. The ship completed a major refit in 2009 which provided a significant uplift in her capability to make her one of the most modern frigates in the world.

HMS Sutherland will sail back down the River Thames around 9.30am on Saturday (Oct 22).