The Royal Navy is investigating after HMS Chiddingfold was filmed reversing into fellow minehunter HMS Bangor. Together they form two-thirds of Operation Kipion, the UK’s permanent naval presence in the Gulf and Indian Ocean.
The Ministry of Defence said there had been no casualties, with HMS Chiddingfold said to remain operational having sustained only minor damage. However, it is unclear for how long HMS Bangor will be out of action.
The gaping hole left in HMS Bangor’s fibreglass hull after HMS Chiddingfold reversed into her. The fiasco means two of the three Royal Navy mine hunters taking part in #OperationKipion are out-of-action. pic.twitter.com/BXipHv6zDU
— Ian Fraser (@Ian_Fraser) January 20, 2024
It comes after Britain and the United States launched air strikes on Yemen in a bid to reduce Houthi attacks on merchant shipping in the Red Sea, which the Iran-aligned group claims are acts of revenge for Israel’s war against Hamas in Gaza.
Rear Admiral Edward Ahlgren said: “I am aware of a recent incident that took place between two minehunters in Bahrain harbour. First of all I would like to stress that thankfully nobody was hurt in the collision, but some damage was sustained.
“Why this happened is still to be established. We train our people to the highest standards and rigorously enforce machinery safety standards, but unfortunately incidents of this nature can still happen.
“I assure you that a full and thorough investigation is already under way and any changes in procedure that could prevent further incidents will be rapidly implemented. In the meantime, the UK will continue to play a key part in ensuring the safety of merchant shipping in the region.”
The two ships are touted as “three of the Royal Navy’s finest minehunters”, which patrol the Gulf, seeking out and destroying unexploded sea mines sown during the Iran-Iraq War.
They also work closely with the UK’s allies to maintain the security of sea routes in the region, which are crucial to both international shipping and the global economy.
It is not the first time that the 1,000-tonne HMS Chiddingfold – launched in 1983 – has been involved in such an incident. In April 2021, also off the coast of Bahrain, it struck HMS Penzance, a ship of the same class as HMS Bangor, and was out of action for three months.