RFA Cardigan Bay has been acting as a mothership for British and American minehunters operating in the Middle East.
RFA Cardigan Bay will be replacd in the region by RFA Lyme Bay.
The Royal Navy say here that the vessel acts as command ship and hub for the UK’s four Bahrain-based minehunters, but also serves as a floating base for specialist dive teams and experts testing automated mine warfare systems, helicopters moving personnel and supplies around the region, and as a ‘petrol station’ and supermarket for the minehunters.
“Her 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 fairly limited range and endurance due to their size – can remain on operations for extended periods. As a result, she’s been heavily in demand since arriving in theatre in 2017 – the second time in the past decade Cardigan Bay was deployed to the Gulf to support minehunters.
She’s taken part in numerous regular MINEXs (combined Anglo-American workouts for their mine warfare forces based in the Gulf), large International Maritime Exercises focused on wider security in Middle East waters, and four Khunjar Haad exercises – the principal annual test of Oman’s armed forces to which her allies are invited. Most recently, Cardigan Bay was at the hub of the Anglo-French-US Artemis Trident, run every two years. Beyond the usual minehunting element, exercise directors threw in a series of self-defence tests against air and surface threats, maritime security, force protection and diving operations.
RFA Cardigan Bay was critical to the success of the large-scale exercise, transferring fresh water, fuel and stores for Royal Navy and coalition ships as they ‘rafted up’ – berthed – alongside the ship in the middle of the Gulf.”
RFA Cardigan Bay will undergo extensive maintenance and refurbishment on her return to the UK, say the Royal Navy.