By Gavin Carr

A Faslane-based mine-hunter has been helping to keep vital sea-lanes safe as part of a NATO mine-hunting force.

Faslane vessel HMS Grimsby joined ships from five nations scouring the stretches of the 60-mile fjord leading to Norway’s capital, Oslo.

During the Nazi occupation of Norway, the inlet was heavily mined and bombers also dumped their payloads into the fjord.  It is a deadly legacy that still has implications today for shipping traversing the busy stretch of water.

HMS Grimsby worked alongside flagship FGS Donau, BNS Bellis, HMLMS Willemstad, HNoMS Otra to help clear the area – Oslofjord- of Wartime munitions.  Together the team located 38 pieces of ordnance (Grimsby accounting for 18 alone), 15 air dropped mines, plus three bombs.

“Oslofjord is absolutely beautiful and it is great to know that we have helped to clear the leftover remnants of World War Two using the art of mine warfare,” said Lieutenant Jim Marsh, HMS Grimsby’s Operations Officer.

The ships first met up last month in the English Channel and made their way to the Baltic via the Kiel Canal.

The first task was to practice together, undertaking rafting with flagship tanker FGS Donau, refuelling on the move, force protection and joint manoeuvres.  Later the vessels headed into Oslo for a visit before tackling the Wartime ordnance.

HMS Grimsby’s Commanding Officer, Lieutenant Commander Tom Gell, said: “MCM1 Crew One in HMS Grimsby have made a strong start to their Baltic deployment.  The group is a really good example of NATO nations working together to help secure sea-lines of communication and keeping the high seas safe.”

HMS Grimsby is one of seven Sandown class Mine Counter Measures vessels based at HM Naval Base Clyde.  The vessels deploy around the globe and around UK waters and are manned by one of eight interchangeable crews from the First Mine Counter Measures Squadron – or MCM1 – also at Faslane.

Pictures show: The NATO ships on the Fjord – L-R: HNLMS Willemstad, BNS Bellis, FGS Donau, HMS Grimsby, and HNoMS Otra;  HMS Grimsby and FGS Donau conduct a replenishment at sea;  an aerial view of the ships, and a diving team from HMS Grimsby – Petty Officer Diver Dale Magnus, AB Diver Mark Cheater and AB Diver Gavin Hughan on the Oslofjord.

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