Sidmouth rating talks of pirate patrol in Indian Ocean

Joining Royal Navy has been “amazing” says former Sidmouth College student Josh

A NAVY rating from Sidford has been involved in patrolling the Indian Ocean to prevent Somali pirates from hijacking boats.

Able Seaman Josh Brown, 22, from Fleming Avenue, is on leave from the frigate, HMS Somerset.

A warfare specialist, who keeps watch in the operations room scanning radar for suspicious vessels, was part of a boarding team on a number of occasions since leaving Devonport last August.

He was present when pirates took the Italian ship, Monte Cristo last autumn, and although his ship circled it, assisting other vessels, none of his boarding team went on board.

However, one of the first boats Josh did board proved suspicions about the crew were right.

He said: “We could tell it was a pirate ship. As the team was going across, the sailors were waving them to come on. Once on board they realised the sailors were being held hostage by pirates who had taken their ship.”

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Josh said the pirates surrendered without a shot fired, adding: “When a warship comes they surrender. They let the sailors go in their boat and we took six pirates on board as prisoners, then sailed to Somalia where they were put in ribs and sent back to a Somali vessel and let go.”

While on HMS Somerset, the pirates were kept in a detention pen, he said.

“It was not a good feeling stopping them from taking that boat then just giving them back to Somalia. They could do it again. But it is good we stop them from taking every boat and help Indian hostages.”

Josh was one of 220 mixed crew on board the frigate, which has now returned to Devonport for a re-fit.

While it was deployed in the Indian Ocean, Royal Marines were also on board “in case we had a bad situation. There was a team of eight, two on the helicopter as snipers and a boarding team.”

Former Sidmouth College student Josh was a panel beater before joining the Royal Navy and says it was the best career move he could make.

“It’s amazing, I’ve seen so many different places I’ve never seen before, and had a lot of good times, while working hard.”

Now his younger brother, Jake, 19, is considering whether to join up.

Meanwhile, there is a lot of catching up to do with family and friends and proud parents Michael and Karen will have a belated Christmas, complete with tree.

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