Royal Navy officer returns from huge-scale NATO operation

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A Royal Navy officer from Aylesbury is returning from taking part in NATO’s largest maritime exercise of the year in the Baltic Sea.

Petty Officer Weapons Engineer (PO) Pete ‘Pedro’ Spayne was deployed in minehunter HMS Quorn on BALTOPS 15 (BALTic OPerationS) – a multi national exercise led by NATO involving 49 ships and more than 5,000 personnel from 17 nations.

A mine being destroyed by HMS Quorn

A mine being destroyed by HMS Quorn

The UK had three ships deployed on BALTOPS, the largest number the country has ever sent to the annual exercise.

PO Spayne, 28, who attended Quarrendon School (now Aylesbury Vale Academy), joined the Royal Navy in 2004 and is Quorn’s Deputy Weapons Engineering Officer, responsible for the ships weapons, sensors and navigational equipment. Next year he is due to complete a seven month tour to the Middle East with the crew, but this year is deployed to a distinctly chillier climate.

He said: “BALTOPS was a rare opportunity to work with ships from so many different nations”

“It gave us the chance to go out and demonstrate our skills and capabilities, but also the opportunity to work with and learn from our friends and allies”

Minehunter HMS Quorn

Minehunter HMS Quorn

Quorn has been deployed since March as part of the Standing NATO Mine Countermeasures Group One (SNMCMG1). Throughout the three month deployment the ship has operated closely with six other NATO minehunters, conducting mine hunting exercises and operations in the region.

Prior to BALTOPS the ship took part in Operation Open Spirit, an annual multinational naval mine clearance and ordnance disposal event in the Baltic designed to remove the 85,000 mines laid during the two world wars.

Within a two-week window the group successfully located 200 historic mines and destroyed close to 50 of them, the others being declared no danger to shipping

PO Spayne said: “Being away for months at a time can be stressful and places a huge strain on family life. We simply couldn’t do it without the support of loved ones back home. I’m looking forward to seeing my wife and kids when we get back to the UK.”

HMS Quorn returns to Portsmouth on July 2.