A Royal Navy warship has returned from an annual multi-national exercise off the coast of Brest where she was joined by ships from France, Russia and the US.
HMS Sutherland, a Plymouth-based Type 23 frigate, took part in gunnery drills, fought off multiple simulated attacks and practised evacuating civilians in the event of an emergency.
The FRUKUS (France-Russia-UK-US) exercise, is hosted by one of the participating nations each year – and 2013 was the turn of the French. HMS Sutherland, known as ‘The Fighting Clan’ was working alongside the French Ship Primauguet, United States Ship Nicholas and the Russian Federation Ship Steregushiy.
Commanding Officer of HMS Sutherland, Commander Al Wilson said: “This has been a unique opportunity to exercise with multiple nations, particularly those with which we are less familiar, using the bond of mariners to strengthen the relationships between nations and navies.
“My ship’s company and I have really enjoyed the experience and were very well looked after by the French Navy and city of Brest.”
The aim of the exercises was to practise working together on maritme operations and maintain the strong relations between all four navies.
Not a stranger to working with other nations and our coalition partners, HMS Sutherland last year conducted counter-piracy, narcotics and maritime security patrols East of Suez working closely with multiple nations to ensure that the sea lanes were kept safe.
And earlier this year the Fighting Clan participated in the bi-annual Joint Warrior exercise hosted by the United Kingdom off the west coast of Scotland along with over 50 ships, air and land forces from a multitude of NATO and European navies.
France and Britain are strong allies having signed Lancaster House Treaty in which UK and the France agreed military cooperation to assure their international commitments and strengthen their capability
FRUKUS began on June 27 with all four ships sailing from Brest Naval Base to for various exercises ranging from dealing with attacks on the task group to offensive warfare.
They also practised evacuating civilians from Morgat Harbour by using helicopters, sea boats and personnel to safely transport them away from danger. The exercise was planned and led by the FS Primauguet and it was a resounding success in testing the ability of the ships to overcome language barriers and different operating procedures.
Taking advantage of having all four nations working closely together HMS Sutherland hosted five sailors from the United States Navy and French Navy to show them life onboard a Royal Navy ship and, in exchange, loaned three of her crew to the USS Nicolas and FS Primauguet.
Air Engineer Technician Martin Telford, who visited the Primauguet, said: “I thoroughly enjoyed my time on the French ship. The highlight of the visit was being able to talk to their air engineers and seeing how they work and look after their Lynx helicopter.”
On the final day of the exercise the ship’s football team played against a team from the Brest naval base. The match was closely contested and ended 3 – 3 with Leading Hand David Gray, Leading Hand Lance Easton and Able Rate Martin Quant scoring for HMS Sutherland.