Life at the end of the road

April 23, 2013

Very busy in the Minch

Filed under: boats, daily doings — Tags: , , , — lifeattheendoftheroad @ 8:36 pm


Yet another typical April day of showers but with a far cooler wind than you’d expect for this time of year, positively ‘Baltic’ in fact. Not really a great deal to write about on the whole, unless I pick up some inspiration as we sail north west towards Harris



with me gently swaying from side to side in my airy cabin. I was shifted upstairs last week and have gained a few square feet and a window, it’s all very nice but the extra height means it rolls far more than the cabins on the lower deck. That’s just fine by me as I love sleeping and lying down whilst at sea but it does make showering and carrying cups of tea ‘interesting’. Which reminds me, I think I’ll just go and do that right now and change into my blue wacky trousers and cosy slippers, a sure sign of old age that Smile

I was half thinking of going for a walk on Harris tonight but a shower of rain has just put me off, not that we’ll be there for another half hour and it could be blazing sunshine by then. However I don’t think Tarbert is ready for me in my ‘lizard pants’ yet Smile

Right, that’s it, wacky trousers on, cup of tea on my desk and I’ll just get on with it. I dunno whether it was actually much busier than usual in the Minch, for I’m by no means an expert, but it certainly seemed that way to me. Of course there’s been a huge naval presence the last week  due to ‘Joint Warrior’

Major exercise in the Minch

Published on 04/04/2008 12:26

WARSHIPS and submarines will be operating in the Minch and the Sea of the Hebrides in a major two-week exercise beginning on April 20.

Called Joint Warrior, the exercise will include NATO, RAF and civilian contracted aircraft conducting simulated attacks against the Fleet.

The exercise aims to see them forge the partnerships and modern fighting skills that they will need in an international crisis.

Land forces will play a part this year with the participation of approximately 160 soldiers from 3 Rifles. Joint Warrior will provide the soldiers with vital experience of operating from sea, culminating in a three-day operation on a remote part of the Western Isles.

Acutely aware of the potential environmental impact of Joint Warrior, careful risk mitigation has been carried out to minimise the impact of the exercise, say the exercise organisers.

It is a twice yearly Royal Navy and Royal Air Force run exercise which provides the best opportunities for British forces to work and fight in large formations – using lessons that are being learned daily in current war zones.

The forces of Joint Warrior will feature a total of 36 warships and around 70 aircraft from the UK and sixteen allied nations.

Lessons and best-practice from current operations such as in Afghanistan and Iraq are used to ensure that the training is realistic and relevant.

For this exercise, the Royal Navy will deploy the 18,500 tonne Assault Ship HMS Bulwark, Type 23 frigates HMS Portland and HMS Northumberland, Sandown class Mine Hunters HMS Walney and HMS Shoreham, two submarines, two helicopters and elements of 3 Commando Brigade Royal Marines.

The exercise will also see the Standing NATO Mine Counter Measures Group participate that is currently commanded by the UK from HMS Roebuck with Sandown class Mine Hunter HMS Hurworth also part of the group.

The air elements of the exercise will operate across the whole of the UK with up to 70 aircraft participating; Harriers, Tornados and Hawks will make up the bulk of the RAF’s air input.

NATO participants will add the Mirage 2000, Rafael, Falcons and F15 Eagles to UK skies and all will exercise in a wide variety of roles in a number of different exercise areas.

So there’s seldom a crossing without seeing a few warships and auxiliaries from various NATO countries, though they never seem to be in sight or near enough when the weather is good enough for photographs.




The two vessels above can be seen on the radar just astern of us, the cargo ship being the Hanseatic Scout and the other vessel the Geco Diamond, yet another seismic survey ship.



This is the second seismic survey vessel here in a week,


I never caught the name of the one above   as it was too far away but it does look like another Western Geco ship and these ships cost more per hour than I earn in a year. Someone is seriously looking for oil, or perhaps submarines!!!



Just ahead of the Hanseatic Scout is the Norwegian heavy lift cargo ship Landy   on a voyage from Dublin to Skagen in Denmark. Showing on the radar but out of sight is the Barbados registered Wilson Hawk,

a 4258 ton cargo ship on passage from Belfast to Lerwick.



that was about it really, or as much as I can be bothered writing about, it’s after 21:30 now and time for bed.


  1. Hi Paul. Lots of good info about Joint Warrior here.

    Comment by Doug Miller — April 23, 2013 @ 9:55 pm

    • Cheers for that Doug.

      Comment by lifeattheendoftheroad — April 24, 2013 @ 9:17 pm

  2. Interesting to read that the Stornoway Gazette still thinks the UK has operational Harriers – weren’t they all decommissioned a year or so back ago to save the country some money?

    Comment by Alan — April 24, 2013 @ 9:00 am

    • Interesting to read that the Stornoway Gazette still thinks the UK has operational Harriers – weren’t they all decommissioned a year or so back ago to save the country some money?

      Apparently so Alan, March 2011 and the remaining 72 sold to the US for £116 million.

      Comment by lifeattheendoftheroad — April 24, 2013 @ 9:09 pm

  3. Aha, I know the Geco Diamond, or at least I worked on her sister ships the Emerald and the Sapphire. The Sapphire I knew best, but it came to a sad end in harbour in Norway:

    The cost of running these ships in my day was about US$100,000 a day. Pricey, but they carry a lot of kit; have 40 crew onboard for 5 weeks at a time, then swap to the other 40 man crew who have had 5 weeks off. So each ship is keeping 80 offshore people employed, not to forget the not inconsiderable army of shore based support staff.

    Comment by Bob — April 24, 2013 @ 6:54 pm

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