Type 23 frigate HMS Sutherland has been sent at full pelt to support NATO on Operation Unified Protector, protecting the people of Libya. Temporarily split off from the Cougar deployment and the Response Force Task Group (RFTG), HMS Sutherland has dashed through the Mediterranean to support fellow Royal Navy and NATO units off the coast of Libya, where she is poised and ready for immediate tasking.
Commander Roger Readwin, Commanding Officer HMS Sutherland, said: ”My ‘fighting clan’ of highly trained and capable sailors has been busy today putting our systems and drills through their paces in preparation for this important mission. We look forward to working with our NATO allies to deliver part of the Royal Navy’s contribution to the operation.”
The frigate goes to join other British forces operating in the area as the UK continues to rain down attacks in efforts to dislodge Colonel Gaddafi’s grip over Libya. Assault ship HMS Ocean sent her Apache helicopters against military targets between Zlitan and Al Khums, which their arsenal of Hellfire missiles successfully despatched.
Before the Army Apaches swooped in, the RAF had sent Typhoon and Tornado aircraft against Colonel Gaddafi’s Bab Al Aziziyah compound – his personal residence and headquarters – in central Tripoli. The spokesman for the Chief of Defence Staff, Maj Gen Nick Pope, said: “Paveway guided bombs scored direct hits in 13 different places on both the outer and inner perimeter walls along the western side of Bab Al Aziziyah.”
Then the RAF sent its jets against four buildings which NATO surveillance had tagged as a command and control centre and a staging post for troops; then against an ammunition stockpile. The fast jets then followed this up on Sunday with a precision strike on the Central Organisation for Electronic Research, which – in Maj Gen Pope’s own words – “has long been a cover for the regime’s nefarious activities.”
Under NATO command, HMS Sutherland will assist in enforcing the current arms embargo, help protect civilians under threat of attack and ultimately support the current mandate given by UN Security Council Resolutions 1970 and 1973; she will also guard against threats to the flow of vital humanitarian assistance. HMS Sutherland, one of the finest examples of the Royal Navy’s multi-purpose warships, is capable of projecting maritime power in support of a wide range of operations including the protection of civilians, territory and trade.