Royal Naval warship HMS Monmouth joined sister ship HMS Iron Duke to take part in anti-submarine hunt exercises in the Norwegian fjords.
HMS Monmouth, a Plymouth-based frigate, and her Portsmouth counterpart, took part in the underwater warfare serials as part of the NATO Submarine Commander Course, better known as ‘Perisher’ because of the gruelling nature of the selection process for future submarine commanders.
The exercise not only helps choose the best possible potential submarine captains through the most unforgiving military command course in the world – but also gives anti-submarine warships, like HMS Monmouth ideal scenarios to hone their skills.
The ship, known affectionately as the Black Duke, has prepared for this exercise with navigation and underwater warfare training off the UK coast this year. The environment is particularly testing in bad weather in confined rocky waters of the fjords which give trainee submarine commanders ample places to hide their vessels to evade the hunting ships and also challenges the ships to evade their underwater chasers.
HMS Monmouth Navigation Officer, Lieutenant Daniel O’Connell said: “Navigating in the fjords brings its own difficulties, especially with the weather we’ve experienced at this time of year, but we’ve all made the most of the challenge in this most demanding and unforgiving of ‘playgrounds’.”
To fully put the ship through her paces HMS Monmouth joined simulated fast-boat attacks against the force, and protected herself against mock attacks and exercised her electronic warfare expertise.
All of which culminated in a tactical exercise which spilt the group into opposing sides and pitted HMS Iron Duke against Monmouth with the Lynx helicopter from 815 Squadron Royal Naval Air Station Yeovilton proving key in helping the Devonport ship score a decisive victory against her South Coast opponent.
Engineering Technician Stephen Britton said: “These exercises have kept us busy, but I’ve really enjoyed using my training for real to integrate our communications with the other NATO ships.”
HMS Monmouth is now returning to UK waters to support Wildcat Helicopter training from 825 Naval Air Squadron, which will be followed by an affiliate home-town visit to Monmouth, berthing in Cardiff, in the run up to Easter.
HMS Monmouth is known as the ‘Black Duke’ after James Scott, the Duke of Monmouth who was beheaded at Tower Hill on 15 July 1685. In reference to this heritage the ship is unique in the Royal Navy as the only Ship to fly a black flag and have a black as opposed to red name plate. HMS Monmouth has more battle honours than any other serving warship. The current and 7th HMS Monmouth returned from a seven-month deployment to the Arabian Gulf deterring piracy and other illegal activities and has since been in refit receiving a number of combat system and marine equipment upgrades and has spent the summer months last year at sea conducting rigorous trials of her new capabilities.