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THE Royal Navy's Type 42 destroyer HMS Nottingham sailed into Palma yesterday as part of the Standing NATO Reaction Force Group Maritime 2 anti-terrorism task force. HMS Nottingham, which hit the headlines in 2002 when she ran aground off an Australian beauty spot and had to be transported back home to the UK for repairs, joined the NATO task force in January. She will remain on operation in the Mediterranean until June under the command of Spanish Rear Admiral Teodor Lopez Calderon commander of the group flag ship, the frigate Navarra. The NATO group force also includes the Aliseo from Italy, the German FGS Brandenburg,the HNLMS De Ruyter from Holland and the United States's USS Arleigh Burke. Under the command of Commander Simon Ward, the HMS Nottingham's role is to support the forces in its primary role of keeping an eye out for the illegal movement of cargoes such as arms and explosives. The Nottingham will challenge any suspect shipping and, if necessary, order the vessels to be boarded and searched as part of the on-going Operation Active Endeavour contra-terrorism operation which involves NATO fleets across the Mediterranean. During the six-month deployment, the Nottingham and her fleet will be visiting ports in Greece, Turkey, Malta, Italy, Portugal and Israel.
The SNMG2 fleet, which involves some 1.000 sailors, which arrived in Palma yesterday is armed with anti-ship and anti-aircraft weapons as well as torpedoes, anti-submarine helicopters and special NBC equipment in the event of a chemical attack. During the fleet's stay in Palma, Rear Admiral Teodoro Lopez Calderon will meet local civil and military dignitaries and a number of activities have been organised for the crews.