Another milestone for Liverpool as she nears end of Libya mission
13 October 2011
HMS Liverpool has clocked up nearly 150 days off Libya as she prepares
to complete her crucial six-month stint in support of NATO’s Operation
The veteran Portsmouth destroyer, which has played a key role in
protecting the people of Libya and helping to topple the Gaddafi regime,
will soon be relieved by HMS York.
Liverpool's Lynx returns to 'mother' after a successful sortie in
the Gulf of Sirte. Pictures: LA(Phots) Caroline Davies and Abbie Gadd,
VETERAN destroyer HMS Liverpool will complete her 150th day on
patrol off Libya on Monday – as she prepares to finish her crucial
After six months in the Gulf of Sirte – with only a few short breaks to
pick up stores and supplies, some key maintenance and a bit of a
breather for the 240-strong ship’s company – the Portsmouth-based
warship is gearing up to handover Operation Unified Protector duties.
The destroyer – nicknamed the Crazy Red Chicken in homage to the Liver
bird on the ship’s badge – has played an important role in protecting
the people of Misrata against pro-Gaddafi forces trying to sally along
the coast, controlled NATO jets for hundreds of hours as they conducted
missions over Libya and the Gulf of Sirte, supported Apache gunship
strikes and fired more than 200 rounds from her main gun.
Although most of the fighting in Libya is now over – with the exception
of the town of Sirte, birthplace of the country’s former dictator and
his last stronghold – the mission off the North Africa goes on, with
Liverpool’s younger sister HMS York about to replace D92.
“It has been a long deployment but the ship’s company have risen to
every challenge put in front of them,’ said the destroyer’s Commanding
Officer Cdr Colin Williams.
“We’ve seen a huge amount of change since we arrived. To be part of it has been a huge privilege.”
The destroyer was originally earmarked to carry out her traditional
function of air defence for a task group – in the form of the Cougar
deployment headed by HMS Albion.
Instead she was ordered to leave Portsmouth at the end of March and
take her place in the international naval force mustered off Libya to
support UN resolutions and enforce an arms embargo and no-fly zone to
protect the country’s citizens.
Liverpool's operations team monitors the situation in the Gulf of Sirte
Since then she has spent 81 hours at Action Stations, been fired at ten
times – and opened fire on 12 occasions, launching 111 high-explosive
and 98 star shells from her main 4.5in gun.
All that gunfire has meant six resupplies of ammunition at sea, plus a
further 29 replenishments at sea to top up on fuel, stores and food.
The destroyer’s fighter controllers have taken charge of 14 different
types of Allied aircraft over Libya and the Med, directing their actions
for 360 hours.
Liverpool's flight deck team await instructions from the Lynx aircrew
And Liverpool’s own air power, her 815 Naval Air Squadron Lynx, has
notched up 230 hours conducting maritime security operations in support
of the NATO mission.
As for the ship herself, she’s spent three out of every four days at
sea since leaving the Solent, adding more than 43,000 miles to her
‘odometer’ in the process.
Statistics only tell a tiny part of the Liverpool-Libya story, however
“As one town after another fell under the advance of the rebels, the
view from the sea of the fall of Tripoli is something the crew will
never forget,” said Lt Ebony Dalton, one of Liverpool’s officers of the
“Instead of artillery and rocket fire, fireworks lit up the capital’s skyline and jubilant cheers were heard via the radio.”
There was more jubilation a few days later when the ship escorted the
new flagship of National Transitional Council forces, the Al Hani, into
Cdr Williams said a Libyan vessel recently contacted the warship and
said thank you to the crew for helping overthrow Col Gaddafi.
He added: “That was hugely satisfying. To know what we’ve been doing is
appreciated by the Libyan people makes a huge difference because we can
show the guys and girls on the ship what we have achieved and what we
have been a part of.”
HMS Liverpool on patrol off Libya
Although the ship’s relief is imminent, Cdr Williams said he hoped to see the NTC take Sirte.
“That will be a big moment for the ship – to say we were here from the
beginning and have since handed the baton on to HMS York and her crew to
continue the good work which we have started.”
With that handover looming, thoughts on the ship are beginning to turn
to home (had Liverpool stuck to her original Cougar mission, she would
have been back in Portsmouth in August).
“We can’t wait to get back and see our families,” said Cdr Williams.
“I’m hoping we get a tremendous welcome and I’m sure we will.
“Stopping and talking to people around the ship, it’s the number one
topic of conversation – which friends and family are going to be there;
what they’re going to do the first night they’re back; what meal they
are going to have. There’s a lot of excitement and expectation.”