04 April 2014 by defenceWeb
With one German naval vessel having just departed the EU Navfor anti-piracy fleet, another is on its way and will take over flagship duties of the fleet tomorrow.
En route to taking up duty in the Indian Ocean, FGS Brandenburg transited the Suez Canal and the Red Sea to join up with other vessels in the EU Navfor’s Operation Atalanta.
The 162 km long Suez Canal is a busy stretch of water requiring a high level of navigation expertise. “When in convoy through the canal, you have to keep a set distance from the vessel ahead of you. You have to stay in the centre as it is shallow on both sides and traffic is one way only,” the Brandenburg watch officer explained.
Making up for the stress of navigating Suez was the sighting of a US Carrier Strike Group. Besides two cruisers of the Ticonderoga class, two Arleigh Burke class destroyers, a supply ship and the nuclear-powered aircraft carrier, the presence of the USNS Harry S Truman was a highlight for the German Navy sailors. All the crew on the upper deck took the opportunity to get out cameras and capture this unique and impressive aircraft carrier and her escorts, EU Navfor News reported.
When the warships passed each other the traditional navy saluting ceremony was carried out. All the servicemen and women not on watch lined up on the upper deck, came to attention and saluted each ship as a ceremonial piping was done.
FGS Brandenburg will take over from the French vessel FS Siroco as fleet flagship for the next four months.
FGS Hessen has departed the Indian Ocean after four months on station during which she performed an extensive number of counter piracy patrols as well as surveillance and evidence gathering close to the Somali coastline.
The ship also conducted 76 reassurance visits to local fishermen and its two embarked Sea Lynx Mk 88A helicopters flew hundreds of hours helping to compile a detailed picture of the pattern of life at sea in the waters of the Horn of Africa. The medical crew of FGS Hessen also saved the lives of two fishermen. One fisherman was rescued from his capsized skiff and the other was given emergency surgery after he was seriously injured following a stingray attack.
FGS Hessen participated in several counter piracy exercises with international forces, including the South Korean warship, Kang Gam Chan, the Chinese counter piracy Task Group and several other EU units. These exercises helped develop greater understanding between international navies and strengthened co-ordination and cooperation to deter piracy around the Horn of Africa.