Prince of Wales praises members of HMS Northumberland - GALLERY

CREW members of HMS Northumberland fighting pirates off the coast of Africa were given a personal thank you by the Prince of Wales.

The Prince of Wales addresses the crew of HMS Northumberland
The Prince of Wales addresses the crew of HMS Northumberland

CREW members of HMS Northumberland fighting pirates off the coast of Africa were given a personal thank you by the Prince of Wales.

On his last day in Oman, Charles visited the ship which was docked in the capital Muscat.

He was given a tour of the 436ft (133m) long vessel and shown details of its mission.

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He also took time out to award medals to two crew members for their long service and good conduct.

Speaking to some of the 200 crew, he said: “You are doing a fantastic job trying to stop the pirates and drug smugglers.

“I hope you can return home knowing you have done a useful and successful job.

“I also want to say how much, for what it’s worth, I admire what you do and the way you carry out your duties all over the world.

“To keep providing the service that you do with shrinking resources is truly remarkable.

“I do not take it for granted, it’s remarkable what you achieve, and I hope and pray you have a safe passage home.”

The specialist anti-submarine frigate is used to hunt pirates and smugglers, and in the last few weeks has seized drugs from two vessels with a street value of £7m.

Lieutenant Commander Nick Bates, flight commander on board, said the crew had been looking forward to the Prince’s visit and said morale had be boosted.

“Everyone has been looking forward to it as it’s a great opportunity for everyone,” he said.

“He really wants to know what’s going on and has got 100% involved in what we have been doing.”

HMS Northumberland was built by Swan Hunter on the River Tyne in 1992 and entered service in 1994.

She is affiliated to her namesake county and around 10% of her crew are from the North East.

She was among the first ships to receive the most advanced sonar in the world to hunt down submarines.

An extensive nine-month refit last year included upgrades and an Operational Sea Training programme, before she went back out to sea.

She is currently in the Middle East and Indian Ocean as part of the Royal Navy’s standing commitment in the region, and her role includes providing reassurance to the UK’s allies, policing busy shipping lanes and carrying out maritime security and counter-piracy patrols.

The visit by Prince Charles came as he and the Duchess of Cornwall toured the region. Earlier he visited a British school with Camilla where they were met by hundreds of children cheering and waving flags.

They are now flying home after the tour, which also took in Jordan, Qatar and Saudi Arabia.

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