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HMS Sutherland commander visits county

By SPP Reporter

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Highland Councillor Robbie Rowantree receives a gift of a framed photo of HMS Sutherland from her commanding officer, Roger Readwin
Highland Councillor Robbie Rowantree receives a gift of a framed photo of HMS Sutherland from her commanding officer, Roger Readwin

HMS Sutherland, the county’s affiliated warship, has been active in a war zone this year, and this week her Commanding Officer, Commander Roger Readwin Royal Navy, visited Sutherland to update local people on the ship’s busy recent programme.

Cdr Readwin spoke at a meeting in Bonar Bridge Hall, assisted by a small team of three, including the ship’s Logistics Officer, Vietnamese-born Lt Cdr Cuong Huynh.

HMS Sutherland last visited her namesake county in March this year, when the ship was open to visitors, but she had to set sail from Invergordon earlier than expected.

Sailing as the escort to the then Fleet Flagship, HMS Albion, the ship was required to be part of the Responsive Force task Group (RFTG), which was deployed early to the Mediterranean in order to provide the government potential military options in the wake of the Arab Spring.

A varied deployment saw the ship steam over 21,000 nautical miles in just over four months. Operations included protecting the Libyan people from Gaddafi’s troops by providing naval gunfire support and also boarding teams to inspect vessels entering and leaving Libyan ports, and so enforce the economic sanctions on the Gaddafi regime.

A very busy summer for HMS Sutherland also saw her visit Crete (to mark the 70th anniversary of the WW2 battle there) and make a long trip to carry out liaison with our allies in the United Arab Emirates. The ship and her crew returned to her home port of Plymouth in August.

Following his talk Cdr Readwin presented local Highland Councillor Robbie Rowantree, with a commemorative picture of HMS Sutherland taken during her recent visit to London in October.

Cdr Readwin said: “Our ship’s liaison with our home county is very important to us, and we are proud to have such a special bond and it is always a pleasure to visit.”

He continued “My team are busy maintaining the ship ahead of a very busy time ahead in 2012 that will see us deployed again to foreign shores.”

It will be Cdr Readwin’s last visit to Sutherland while in command - he leaves the ship later this year to take up an appointment at Navy Command in Portsmouth. His successor is Cdr Allan Wilson RN.

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