HMS Trent is bound for the waters of the Gulf of Guinea as she heads for security patrols and a mission to support allies in West Africa. The River-class Batch 2 patrol ship is on an enduring deployment to the Mediterranean that has seen her operate as far east as the Black Sea since she left the UK six months ago. HMS Trent is now turning her attentions south to the tropical waters of the Gulf of Guinea for the next three months as she becomes the first Royal Navy ship to sail to the region in three years. With Royal Marines of 42 Commando on board, the ship will carry out a range of joint exercises and training to strengthen ties and develop plans for future operations in the region.
Trent will visit Nigeria, Ghana, Senegal, Gambia and Cape Verde, and will take part in French-led multinational exercises that will bring together international partners in the area, known as Exercise Grand African Nemo. She will also conduct security patrols and support partner navies by helping to develop key maritime skills. HMS Trent carries on board a 17-strong contingent from 42 Commando, which will train partner forces in skills like boarding and searching of suspicious vessels, as well as evidence handling and medical skills. This is one of the specialist areas Royal Marines of 42 Commando can turn their hands to, with marines regularly deploying in small teams to provide world-class training in a range of skills.
As well delivering training to partner nations, 42 Commando are experts in boarding operations helping fight against illegal activity like piracy, drugs-smuggling and terrorism. The Plymouth-based unit deploy in small teams on Royal Navy warships around the world and are also tasked with rescuing isolated personnel – like downed pilots or British citizens at risk – from behind enemy lines. The deployment of the patrol vessel is a clear signal of the UK’s commitment to being more persistently engaged in the region, through which more than £6 billion of UK trade passes every year. It has been coordinated with regional and international partners through the G7++ Friends of the Gulf of Guinea (FoGG) and Gulf of Guinea Maritime Collaboration Forum.
HMS Trent is one of five Royal Navy patrol ships dotted around the world in areas of importance to the UK – from the Indo-Pacific, South Atlantic to the Mediterranean and Caribbean. Trent’s sister ships HMS Spey and HMS Tamar recently headed on a long-term mission to the Indo-Pacific. The two ships are deployed across a vast area, from the eastern shores of Africa to the west coast of the USA. HMS Medway, meanwhile, patrols Caribbean waters and HMS Forth operates around the South Atlantic, working regularly around the Falkland Islands. This is part of the Royal Navy’s Forward Presence programme that seeks to put ships in positions around the world ready to respond to global events. HMS Trent finished preparations for her patrol to West Africa last week in the waters close to Gibraltar, refreshing skills following a period of maintenance and a rotation of crew.