NAVY officers put their training to use in an operation to practise protecting ship crews and cargo from terrorists and pirates.
Members of the Royal Navy reservists spent a day at the Port of Sunderland, where they boarded cable-laying ship CS Sovereign, as they swapped their Tyneside base at HMS Calliope for the Wear.
The team of about a dozen carried out observation duties, monitored other vessels in the port and those looking on to the ship, changed posts, handed over weapons, used communications and worked alongside the crew.
The exercise was the first time the service has run from the port, and organisers praised its bosses for allowing them to recreate the conditions of a shift in a harbour much like those found in Muscat, Singapore and Dubai.
In reality, such operations are run on Royal Fleet Auxiliary and British-flagged shipping as they carry out tasks such as carrying supplies, in at-risk areas including the Indian Ocean and Suez Canal.
They guard the vessel in port and occasionally travel with it in the open water to protect it from attacks.
In addition to the efforts on board, a land-based group also logged movements, ensured links were maintained with emergency services and offered medical support in case of emergencies from the Port of Sunderland’s offices.
The team involved in Saturday’s exercise is based with the Navy’s Warfare Sea branch, and they also have civilian jobs in addition to their roles with the force.
Lieutenant Commander Ian Berry said: “As far as this exercise is concerned and the ships that are available, this is an ideal training platform because it is huge and has lots of different decks. There are lots of areas and we’re wearing our body armour and have our rifles and trying to check magazines.
“It’s quite a challenge and it’s something I’ve done on and off throughout my career, but if you don’t do something like this for a while, it takes that little bit longer when you come to do it in real life.
“It should be instinctive and so this is very useful for honing skills and it means we can mobilise when the time comes.
“The city of Sunderland, which owns the port, and the CS Sovereign really do deserve our thanks for making today happen.”