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Royal Navy Frigate HMS Marlborough Visit To Auck

Royal Navy Frigate HMS Marlborough Visit To Auckland

HMS MARLBOROUGH sailed from her homeport of Portsmouth, on the south coast of England 17 January 2003 to take part in the long-planned world deployment known as Naval Task Group 03 (NTG03). As international events unfolded and following Iraq’s continued refusal to fully abide by UN directives, MARLBOROUGH was re-tasked by the UK Government to support coalition forces taking military action to liberate Iraq and secure Weapons of Mass Destruction.

From her arrival in the Northern Arabian Gulf, HMS MARLBOROUGH took part in maritime insurgency operations (MIOPs), boarding and searching merchant shipping to enforce compliance with UN trade sanctions, under the Tactical Command of an Australian Commodore, Peter Jones, in HMAS KANIMBLA. Following the final decision to take military action and in the early hours of 20 March, MARLBOROUGH led a force of four ships, including HMAS ANZAC, into shallow waters close to the Iraqi coast in the Al Faw Estuary. From this location, the ships provided Naval Gunfire Support to UK Commandos securing oil installations on the Al Faw peninsula. In the event, with poor weather encumbering air support operations, this proved to be a very important and successful contribution to the early phase of the operation.

Prior to arrival in Auckland, HMS MARLBOROUGH completed an enjoyable 4 day visit to Cairns Australia. During the course of her deployment, the ship has spent over 80 days continuously at sea, 54 of them at a high state of readiness. The programme for the remainder of the deployment is yet to be fully confirmed, however, MARLBOROUGH expects to visit Sydney after Auckland and then depart these waters to join in with a defence exercise off to Malaysia (Exercise Flying Fish 03), with Five Power Defence Agreement forces, before passaging back to UK in August. (New Zealand is a member of the Five Power Defence Agreement and HMNZS ENDEAVOUR and HMNZS MANAWANUI will be in Singapore to exercise with navies of the other members being Australia, Malaysia, Singapore, and United Kingdom).
HMS MARLBOROUGH is closely affiliated to the town of Marlborough in the County of Wiltshire in Southern England and she is carrying a loyal greeting from Mrs Margaret Boulton the Mayor of Marlborough in UK to the Mayor and People of Marlborough in New Zealand. Captain Mark Anderson will travel from Auckland to Marlborough during his stay to make the official presentation of the greeting.

Captain Anderson has kindly allowed HMS MARLBOROUGH be opened for visits from the Auckland public between the hours of 10.00am and 3.00pm Sunday 18 May. Visitors will be guided around the upper deck of the ship and will be able to meet members of the crew.

The Commanding Officer, Captain Mark Anderson stated:

This deployment has demonstrated the inherent flexibility, power and utility of Maritime forces, as part of the UK Rapid Reaction Force. The use of military force in Iraq was a contingency plan as we left the UK and this remained the case until the last moment. The maritime phase of the operation, alongside our allies was completed quickly, clearing the way for vital humanitarian aid to enter the country bringing much needed relief to the people of Iraq. As maritime activity levels reduced, HMS MARLBOROUGH has been able to leave the theatre and take up her original deployment plan, without the need to reset in her national base. The purpose of our visit to New Zealand is very much to cement the historically strong bond between our two Nations. We look forward to completing a number of official functions during out stay and feel privileged by the opportunity to make new friends in a country I have long yearned to visit. I do hope that the local people will take the opportunity afforded by the ship being open to the public to come along and say hello, we look forward to meeting them and welcoming them onboard.

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