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Baltic premier visits British ship after Russian Tasks

Posted 18 July 2012 · Add Comment

Estonia's Prime Minister has stepped aboard a Royal Navy warship after a four-nation Baltic Sea exercise.

The crew of Portsmouth-based HMS York prepared their ship for an impromptu tour by Andrus Ansip in the capital Tallinn and heard him repeat Estonia’s commitment to its North Atlantic Treaty Organisation (NATO) role.

York, away on her final deployment, was paying an informal visit after completing a short Baltic deployment. She took part in ship boarding and submarine hunting drills during the annual FRUKUS (France-Russia-UK-US) exercise, hosted this year by the Russian Federation Navy between the ports of Baltiysk and St. Petersburg.

Last year HMS York rushed to deliver medical supplies to Libya during the civil war and visited British territories in the South Atlantic, while here many of her Ship’s Company were visiting Russia for the first time.

The ship itself was working with the French ship FS De Grasse, the Russian vessel RFN Yaroslav Mudray and the American warship USS Normandy. 

They put to sea from Baltiysk, part of the ‘closed’ (diplomatically restricted) Russian district of Kaliningrad, heading into strong winds until they reached the calm exercise area in the Baltic Sea. Previously the four ships had played sport against each other, with York winning a tug-of-war and swimming and coming second in a football tournament.

Over the next four days, while a chef and warfare officer swapped between De Grasse and York, the group went through watch manoeuvres, repelling fast attack craft, air defence, man overboard drills and close and medium range gunnery exercises.

The serials were all completed well, but York was given the chance to also fire her main 4.5-inch gun against a towed target.

Logistician (catering services) James Wright who spent 4 days onboard FS De Grasse said: "It was a privilege to be asked to spend time working onboard De Grasse.

"They only had bread and fruit for breakfast which I think would cause a revolt in a Royal Navy warship, and cooking frogs’ legs in garlic was a first for me! I thoroughly enjoyed the experience.” 

The group then moved to the city of St. Petersburg, where personnel went to a wreath-laying ceremony at the Piskaryovshoye Memorial Ceremony. It is the grave site for half a million military and civilian personnel who died during the 900-day wartime siege of Leningrad.

Members of York’s Ship’s Company also conducted charity work at a local orphanage, laid on a children’s party onboard and opened the upper deck to more than 4,000 visitors over two days.

The visit ended with an official reception on board on behalf of the Consul General, Mr Gareth Ward. Among the local and foreign civilian and military guests was the Lord Mayor of London.

 

Commander Rex Cox, commanding officer of York, said: " It has been a pleasure to bring HMS York to Tallinn, the visit has been a huge success and allowed us to further our relationship with the Estonian Navy.  The Estonians have been fantastic hosts and my Ship’s Company have enjoyed the visit immensely.

“Meanwhile FRUKUS 2012 has been an excellent opportunity to interact with the Russian Federation Navy, both at sea and alongside in Baltiysk and the stunning and hospitable city of St. Petersburg.”

York also hosted an 120-guest reception in Estonia on behalf of Her Majesty’s Ambassador Mr. Christopher Holtby.

A delegation from York, led by Cdr Cox, laid a wreath at the Kaitseväe Kalmistu Defence Forces Cemetery where 15 British servicemen were laid to rest after the First World War.

 

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