16 January 2015: A Royal Navy warship swapped minehunting operations in the Middle East for the glamour of the Volvo Ocean Race stopover in Abu Dhabi.
HMS Chiddingfold, a Portsmouth-based minehunter currently assigned to the Royal Navy’s Maritime Component Command in Bahrain, was in the United Arab Emirates at New Year, so race sponsor Inmarsat invited members of the ship’s company to the Leg 2 awards night.
The evening provided an opportunity to increase awareness of the benefits a naval presence brings to the region. Chris McLaughlin, Inmarsat Senior Vice President for External Affairs and Marketing Communications, stressed the importance of the Royal Navy’s contribution to maritime security, specifically in reducing the risk of piracy.
Lieutenant Commander Andy Brown, HMS Chiddingfold’s Commanding Officer, said: “It was a privilege to be involved in such a significant event, and I am proud to have been part of the Royal Navy’s contribution to ensuring free and unhindered access to the sea over recent times, which has undoubtedly played a part in enabling this leg of the race to proceed.”
In the last Volvo Ocean Race edition, the teams were unable to race through parts of the Indian Ocean because of the threat of pirate attacks.
In addition, keen yachtsman Captain Phil Warwick, the UK’s Deputy Maritime Component Commander for the Middle East, was given the unique opportunity to take part in the in-port race as part of the Dongfeng Race Team. He said: “It was a fantastic opportunity to witness first-hand the challenges that the crews face as they race around the world.”
HMS Chiddingfold has now returned to duty, safeguarding the waterways in the Middle East in support of the UK’s interests in the region.
Leg 3 of the Volvo Ocean Race is well underway, with the six boats currently competing expected in Sanya, China, towards the end of this month.
Inmarsat is the official Satellite Communications Partner for the 2014-15 edition, delivering cutting-edge safety services, vessel tracking, audio and video communications and social media access to bring the race alive to millions of fans following it worldwide, as well as boosting crew members’ morale.
Each Volvo Ocean 65 boat is equipped with FleetBroadband 500 (FB500), FleetBroadband 250 (FB250) and Inmarsat C safety terminals, and has an IsatPhone 2 satellite phone stowed in its liferaft pack.
Volvo Ocean Race: www.inmarsat.com/vor