Major Royal Navy vessels can now berth at the UK’s base in Bahrain after waterfront facilities were revamped.
Shallower draft ships such as Hunt and Sandown-class minehunters have been using the quayside at the UK Naval Support Facility in Bahrain since it opened two years ago – allowing them much easier access to engineering support and fresh supplies.
But larger Royal Navy vessels – notably Type 23 frigates and Type 45 destroyers – have either used the Flour Jetty, or the slightly more distant Finger Jetty as personnel were not sure their own quay could handle them safely.
It’s been completely refurbished with HMS Argyll – one of two Type 23s currently operating out of Bahrain, alongside her sister Montrose – christening the new facility.
Beyond easier access for frigates/destroyers to the maintenance and support facilities at the NSF, it also means crews only have to walk a short distance in punishing Gulf temperatures to the welfare facilities in the UK establishment (galley, coffee shop, gym, shop, bar and TV/games room).
Commander Andrew Ainsley, who brought HMS Argyll alongside the jetty for the first time, said it marked “a key moment” in the development of the facility as the hub of Royal Navy operations in the region.
“To be able not only to draw on the first-rate support available, but to also afford our people the creature comforts provided ashore, will allow the UK Maritime Component to enhance its operational edge in this important and demanding theatre,” he added.
“Quite apart from that, it is great to have the genuine feel of a task group as we berth next to the mine-hunters and build our team.”
Commander Suzy Conway, the support facility’s Commanding Officer added: “This year we have succeeded in delivering a series of ‘firsts’ and the team should be very proud of their achievements.
“We have seen the first Type 23 alongside the UKNSF Jetty since the facility here in Bahrain was issued a licence and gained approvals from the US to use their newly-refurbished jetty.”