HMS Bangor continues work off Libya
31 Aug 11
Royal Navy minehunter HMS Bangor has been stationed off the coast of Libya for the last two months, ensuring that vital humanitarian aid reaches the Libyan people.
The Royal Navy ship left its home port in Scotland on 6 June this year, heading to the Mediterranean to support NATO forces off the coast of Libya.
Since reaching Libya the Sandown Class mine countermeasures vessel, operating just yards from land and under constant threat from artillery fire from troops loyal to Colonel Gaddafi, has conducted six different operations in the region.
Petty Officer (Mine Warfare) Steve Moss is one of two minehunting directors on the vessel, conducting defence watches and operating the Seafox mine disposal system. He also acts as the operations room supervisor:
"We spend so long training for times like these that it is fantastic to get a chance to do our jobs in a real, high threat environment," said PO(MW) Moss.
"Uncertainty is always just around the corner, but our job, clearing the way so that humanitarian aid can reach civilians caught up in the conflict, makes me feel that I am really making a difference."
Manning their posts in heat of over 35 degrees Celsius for six hours at a time, the sailors on board Bangor have to remain constantly vigilant for incoming threats. It is a task that takes incredible strength of character:
"The body armour and helmets are very heavy and the stress this causes in the extreme heat is unbelievable," said Able Seaman (Diver) James Oakley.
Able Seaman (Diver) Oakley is a trained mine clearance diver and also plays his part in protecting the ship by operating some of the vessel's upper deck weapons such as miniguns and general purpose machine guns:
"It feels awesome to play such an integral part in the ship's safety," he said. "We do our best to maintain 360-degree cover at all times - it's satisfying to know that you're playing your part in helping to keep your shipmates safe.
"I have been manning the ship's weapons while we were minehunting just yards from Misurata Port.
"It's a good feeling, knowing that I am making a real difference to the civilians in Libya."
When not engaged in checking the routes into Misurata for mines, the ship is further out to sea conducting patrols and monitoring the maritime traffic in the area.
Each vessel must be identified and questioned to ensure that there are no breaches of the arms embargo that is in force. Shipping in the area ranges from small fishing vessels to large merchant ships carrying humanitarian aid. All of them must be checked by HMS Bangor.
With the nearest land support over 200 nautical miles (370km) away, HMS Bangor must rely on some of her sister ships in the Royal Navy for support.
In the two months since joining Operation UNIFIED PROTECTOR, Bangor has taken on stores and fuel from HMS Ocean twice and been replenished at sea by Royal Fleet Auxiliary vessel Orangeleaf. There have also been two helicopter transfers during that time.
RAF destroys Gaddafi Scud missile launchers
31 Aug 11
RAF aircraft put several military targets out of the reach of pro-Gaddafi forces in Libya yesterday, including Scud missile launchers and a military command and control site.
Early on Tuesday morning, 30 August 2011, RAF Tornado and Typhoon aircraft used Paveway bombs to destroy a military command and control site which NATO surveillance had successfully identified near Bani Walid.
During the afternoon, an armed reconnaissance patrol over Hun was tasked by NATO to attack a mobile radar system which had been located in the area; the vehicle was destroyed.
Further patrols continued at Bani Walid, in the course of which our aircraft spotted three heavily camouflaged Scud missile launchers deployed just to the east of the town, well within potential range of all the coastal cities from Tripoli to Misurata. Paveway guided bombs destroyed all three.
While HMS Liverpool remains on patrol off Tripoli, protecting humanitarian shipping movements into the port, HMS Ocean is undergoing a short period of planned maintenance. This has been co-ordinated with NATO and operations are not affected.
RAF and Navy take further action against pro-Gaddafi forces
2 Sep 11
The Royal Navy and RAF took further action yesterday against pro-Gaddafi forces in Libya under NATO's Operation UNIFIED PROTECTOR to enforce UN Security Council Resolution 1973.
In the early hours of yesterday morning, a precision strike over the area surrounding Bani Walid, where RAF aircraft were conducting armed reconnaissance patrols, destroyed a military command and control installation.
A couple of hours later, RAF aircraft identified a pick-up truck armed with a large rocket pod. A Brimstone missile destroyed the vehicle, with numerous secondary explosions from the rockets.
In the afternoon, Tornado GR4s conducted a strike on six buildings in use by former regime forces near Bani Walid, at Qaryat al Mirqib. All six targets were destroyed by Paveway guided bombs.
Overnight, HMS Liverpool again fired star shells over pro-Gaddafi military positions at Sirte to demonstrate to those forces which persist in prolonging the conflict that their positions are well-known and capable of being targeted.
Meanwhile, yesterday, UK Prime Minister David Cameron and French President Nicolas Sarkozy co-chaired an international conference on Libya in Paris.
The meeting was an opportunity to help the National Transitional Council on the path to establishing a free, democratic and inclusive Libya. Over 60 countries attended the meeting along with UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon.
Leaders at the conference agreed to continue with NATO operations, bring those guilty of war crimes to justice and support the National Transitional Council (NTC) in its efforts to achieve political transition. It was also unanimously agreed that frozen Libyan assets should be handed over to the NTC.
Speaking following the meeting, Mr Cameron said that although 'enormous difficulties' lay ahead the Libyans were showing the world their courage, spirit and resilience.
He added that the NATO operation in Libya would continue for 'as long as we are needed to protect civilian life'.
Mr Cameron also said that lessons had been learnt from Iraq and past conflicts and this was reflected in the fact that there have not been occupying armies or invading forces.