Royal Navy Leading Seaman, North Arabian Gulf, 2003

In 2003 the Royal Navy deployed ships and personnel to the North Arabian Gulf as part of the ongoing Operation Telic in Iraq at the time. Thirty three ships would be deployed, the largest RN commitment in decades. Alongside the aircraft carriers, destroyers and frigates was a hydrographical survey vessel, HMS Roebuck which was used to survey the seabed for hazards and allowed the task force to sail far closer to shore than was expected. HMS Roebuck would be the first vessel into the port of Umm Qasr and this month’s impression is of one of her crew:

This leading hand on HMS Roebuck wears the Hydrographical, Meterological and Oceanographic branch badge on his overalls, together with the fouled anchor badge of his rate. The crew are at a heightened state of readiness and so he is wearing the white anti-flash hood and gloves to protect his skin from flash burns. As he has come above deck, he has donned a Mk 6 helmet, worn without a cover as was typical in the RN at the time. His body armour is the older CBA set, the newer ECBA with extra plates over the chest was being introduced at this time, but its issue was far from universal and general shortages mean it is not as good a fit as would be preferred, but better than nothing. On his feet he wears standard ‘steaming bats’, a steel toe-capped working boot.

This type of dress was common in the early days of Telic and an S10 respirator and lifejacket in their haversacks would never be far away in case they needed to be grabbed in a hurry.

  1. Mk 6 helmet
  2. Combat Body Armour in DPM cover
  3. Overalls with badges for a leading hand and the Hydrographical and Meterological Branch
  4. ‘Steaming Bats’ work boots
  5. Anti flash hood
  6. Anti flash gloves

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