Sailors and Royal Marines from Royal Naval warship HMS Northumberland have carried out final boarding training before beginning policing patrol.
The Devonport-based frigate is making use of NATO ranges and training complex in Crete after completing its duties with the UK Response Force Task Group in the central Mediterranean.
The ship has been playing its role with the Anglo-French exercise and is now heading through the Suez Canal to deal with international piracy, terrorism and smuggling.
The ship has completed escort duties with the UK’s Response Force Task Group on its Cougar 12 deployment. And will be relieving her sister ship HMS Sutherland, also Plymouth based, to take over maritime policing in the Indian Ocean and environs.
This deployment is a very different mission from the opening stages of HMS Northumberland’s deployment when it chaperoned the huge French nuclear-powered aircraft carrier Charles de Gaulle during an exercise off Corsica when it came under French command for a period.
The ship rehearsed repulsing a mock attack from very-low-flying French Mirage jet fighters from the carrier-based Rafale and land-based Mirage fighters and practised close manoeuvres with French destroyers.
After a brief fuelling and re-storing visit to Toulon with the rest of the British task group, HMS Northumberland sailed for advanced anti-submarine warfare training with an allied submarine.
Northumberland’s captain Commander Paddy Dowsett said: “My ship’s company enjoyed – and benefited immensely from – our time on Exercise Corsican Lion. “We’re particularly grateful for being made to feel so welcome while working with the French carrier strike group. The exercise proved our ability to operate as part of a joint expeditionary force, and helped enhance all aspects of our warfare skills.’’
He said the realistic training against a submarine was welcome and reinforced the view that a Type 23 frigate such as Northumberland, fitted with Sonar 2087 and a Merlin helicopter remains the most potent anti-submarine warfare platform of any navy at sea today.
Crete is home to the site for checking the calibration of radars and sonars and weapons, allowing NATO ships to pass crucial information to each other accurately ahead of the six-month stint in the Indian Ocean.
The NATO base in Souda Bay is also home to the Maritime Interdiction Operational Training Centre, which uses a former Greek Navy training ship to allow visiting ship’s companies to hone their board and search skills. Which is exactly what Northumberland’s Royal Navy and Royal Marines teams did.