A Royal Navy-led NATO task force will sail into Palma next week for a brief visit.
The flagship of the six-vessel squadron is HMS Roebuck, a ship which has a unique claim to fame; she is the 18th ship to bear this name in the Royal Navy. The first Roebuck saw action against the Spanish armada in 1588. Her commanding officer was none other than Sir Francis Drake. She played a key role in the battle against the armada and even captured a Spanish ship. The third Roebuck served during the English Civil war and ships of the this name have been involved in conflicts across the world. There was an HMS Roebuck at the Battle of the Nile and the present vessel served during the second Gulf war.

Roebuck is officially an inshore survey vessel but in this case she is acting as a mother-ship for five minesweepeers from Britain, Germany, Belgium Estonia and Holland. Officially she is the command ship for NATO Mine Countermeasures Group 1 which at the moment is commanded by Commander Chris Davies.

The second Royal Navy vessel in the group is the veteran minehunter Ledbury. For a vessel of her size, HMS Ledbury is a well-travelled ship.
She has seen service in the Gulf and South Atlantic, and this year visited the Baltic twice on exercise - with a third trip on the cards.
Ledbury, the second of the Hunt-class ships, is an all-rounder in the field of mine warfare in that she is capable of both minesweeping and minehunting.

The traditional art of minesweeping involves the destruction of mines using a towed wore to sweep them up, whereas minehunting has come into its own as technology has advanced.

The modern RN minehunter uses high-definition sonar to identify a mine, and then deploys a robotic miniature submarine or divers to place explosive charges. Cameras carried by the RCMDS (Remote Controlled Mine Disposal System) Vehicle means the sea bed can also be scanned, and suspicious objects identified at a safe distance. Portsmouth-based Ledbury is only the second ship of her name. The other vessels in the group are FGS Homberg (Germany), BNS Lobelia (Belgium), Admiral Cohen (Estonia) and HNLMS Urk (Holland).


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