Royal Navy’s Lyme Bay returns to UK after Gulf deployment

RFA Lyme Bay has returned to the UK following successful forward deployment to the Gulf in support of ongoing operations in the region. The vessel is a bay-class landing ship dock of the Royal Fleet Auxiliary, built to support amphibious global operations. It also involves the Royal Marines and is designed to carry and offload troops and equipment, which includes 400 personnel, 150 trucks or 24 tanks at once.

Since leaving Portland during March 2021, RFA Lyme Bay has steamed over twenty-six thousand miles – the equivalent of more than a circumnavigation of the world. Participating in and supporting numerous Allied exercises whilst deployed, the ship has also visited Crete, Limassol, Dubai, Bahrain, Muscat, Salalah, Aqaba and Gibraltar along the way. Arriving at Portland Port, Dorset to offload equipment and stores, which, once completed, will see her proceed on to Falmouth, Cornwall for planned maintenance, system upgrades and refurbishment.

Read more: Royal Navy’s HMS Montrose strikes drug traffickers again with GBP1.8m heroin bust For this tasking RFA Lyme Bay has proved to be a very useful ‘mother ship’ for not just RN Minehunters operating in the Middle East, but also those of allies and partners.

Ships from partner nations of Combined Task Force North participate in a photo exercise during International Maritime ExerciseShips from partner nations of Combined Task Force North participate in a photo exercise during International Maritime Exercise

At Portland to welcome the ship home was Royal Fleet Auxiliary Head of Service, Commodore David Eagles RFA commented: “It is a huge honour to welcome RFA Lyme Bay home after a very successful deployment to the Gulf.

“I am so very proud of all that her Ship’s Company has delivered in support of UK operations in the region and wish them all a safe return to their loved ones. “The ship herself now heads into well-deserved maintenance and upgrade and I look forward to her re-joining the Fleet in her core amphibious role next year.” RFA Lyme Bay has not only acted as command ship and hub for the UK’s Bahrain-based minehunters, but also served as a floating base for specialist dive teams and helicopters moving personnel and supplies around the region and as a ‘petrol station’ and supermarket for the mine countermeasure units.

As an LSDA, RFA Lyme Bay’s ability to hold enough fuel to fill up multiple ships at a time, as well as approximately 200 tonnes of provisions means that minehunters, which typically have a limited range and endurance due to their size, can remain on operations for extended periods. As another successful deployment concludes, RFA Lyme Bay’s commanding officer, Captain Angus Bissell RFA, said: “It has been a privilege to command RFA Lyme Bay during her deployment to Op Kipion. “I have an excellent ship’s company who rose to the challenges of the region, particular highlights being Lyme’s role in the development of autonomous vehicles and future mine hunting capability and latterly as part of CTF 153 a new task group under Combined Maritime Forces providing maritime security in the Red Sea and Gulf of Aden.”

He added: “”I have also been very proud to offer up spare berthing capacity to our training teams and have provided experience for 20-25 persons during my tenure, across all specialisations, demonstrating the RFA’s commitment to industry-leading training and development of British merchant seafarers.”

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