The UK Royal Navy’s Duke-class Type 23 frigate HMS St Albans has joined the French flagship FS Charles de Gaulles carrier strike group in the Gulf, to support the fight against the terrorist group, Islamic State (ISIS).
The 16th and last Type 23 frigate was initially designated to east of Suez to combat terrorism, piracy and smuggling in the Indian Ocean.
The vessel has been commissioned to Task Force 50, which is comprised of more than 59 ships from six nations, including six aircraft carriers, stretching over 800nm.
The force is part of Operation Chammal, which is the French codename for the US-led coalition mission, Operation Inherent Resolve.
Royal Navy commander Richard Hutchings said: "HMS St Alban’s rapid integration into the French strike operations against Daesh is symbolic of the UK’s solidarity and proof of the close relationship between the two nations’ military forces."
The vessel had undergone training for three weeks with the French group in Toulon, before the Paris attacks, to measure its functionality, and had also participated in the combined French / UK / US anti-submarine drill.
Launched on 6 May 2000, the 133m-long frigate, with a displacement of 4,900t was constructed by BAE Systems at Scotstoun.
It is propelled by four 1,510kW Paxman Valenta 12CM diesel generators, two GEC electric motors delivering 2,980kW and two Rolls-Royce Spey SM1C delivering 23,190kW.
The frigate can accommodate 185 personnel and is equipped with a 4.5in MK8 gun, small-calibre SA80, harpoon long range anti-ship missile, and Sea-Wolf guided missiles.
St Albans is the first frigate to carry the AgustaWestland Merlin HM.2, multi role helicopter.
Image: HMS St Albans joined forces with the Charles de Gaulle French Carrier Strike Group (CSG) in the Middle East. Photo: courtesy of Royal Navy.