12:02pm Saturday 28th September 2013
ALL the key maritime players gathered in Milford Haven last week to take part in a major training exercise.
Royal Navy reservists from around the UK joined members of the Army Reserve, the Maritime Coastguard Agency, Dyfed-Powys Police, a specialist diving unit, and a team of hydrographic surveyors on Operation Cambrian Trader.
The exercise, which ran from Wednesday, September 18 to Sunday, September 22, was designed to train the Navy’s Maritime Trade Operations specialists, and prepare them for deployment anywhere in the world, where they could face threats such as piracy.
The task of creating scenarios which replicated what the Royal Navy could do to support a commercial port in real life was the job of Commander Simon Cottam, who leads the Navy’s Maritime Trade Operations specialisation.
He set up a series of exercises, including diving on wrecks, surveying for safe anchorages, briefing merchant shipping on safety and security, and escorting merchant shipping into and out of port.
Commander Cottam said: “We chose Milford Haven as a training destination as it’s the third largest port in the UK, so it’s clearly significant. The sort of maritime traffic that comes in here, namely oil and gas, is the sort of traffic that we are interested in (in terms of high value cargos).
“The specialisation for the last 10 years has mobilised personnel to an organisation called UKMTO Dubai, and our role is basically making sure that there’s an uninterrupted flow of maritime trade through the Gulf.”
Commodore Jamie Miller, Naval Regional Commander for Wales and Western England, added: “Working in partnership is crucial. I am a former task commander that’s been shot at five times and sunk twice, so I’m always quite keen to prepare for the unexpected adder in the grass.
“This sort of training exercise of getting people together in a fairly benign environment, testing everything out from basic communications to learning each other’s heartbeat, means that if something happens, being it emergency, civil, strikes or fuel shortages, we understand each other’s calling and trust each other.”
The exercise was also welcomed by the corporate affairs director for the Port of Milford Haven, Mark Andrews.
He said: “The infrastructure here is critical to the UK and therefore it is important that we have the resources available to respond to any threats.
“If you’ve got an understanding of how the Navy works and they’ve got an understanding of how the Port works, then when that training turns into a reality, you’re in a much better position.”
Bill Hirst, Harbourmaster at the Port of Milford Haven, added: “The Royal Navy has been great guests, always close partners, and we hope this will forge an even greater trust, so essential in the maritime domain.”
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