The Royal Navy frigate HMS Somerset and other Plymouth-based ships are ready to take part in the major multi-national military exercise Joint Warrior.
Exercise Joint Warrior is a tri-service exercise held in the spring and autumn of each year. Providing high quality tactical training for the three UK armed forces, as well as visiting units from allied nations, the exercise will allow them to practise vital skills needed in modern conflicts.
Running until October 17, this latest exercise will see participation by 16 naval units, over 40 fixed wing aircraft and a number of UK and allied land forces. The maritime contingent will involve ships from the UK, France, Denmark and Norway with Commander Danish Task Group leading the operations on board HDMS Absalon.
Royal Navy ships taking part include the Type 23 frigates from Plymouth HMS Monmouth, HMS Portland, HMS Somerset, HMS Sutherland and HMS Northumberland. While mine hunters HMS Cattistock, HMS Brocklesby, HMS Bangor will join them in Glasgow ahead of the exercise.
Joint Warrior will offer additional training for HMS Somerset’s crew, with particular focus on working closely with other NATO ships in an international task group. Commanding Officer, Commander Mike Smith Royal Navy said: “For HMS Somerset Joint Warrior is the final part of ten months worth of training and broader preparation for global operations. After Joint Warrior, Somerset will be truly ready to deliver success on operations whenever required, wherever needed, whatever the mission.”
HMS Somerset is raring to go having completed an intensive period training provided by staff of Flag Officer Sea Training off the South West coast simulating operations deployed on a global mission with all capabilities tested during mock war fighting, including boarding of other ships to help police the oceans.
Immediately prior to the exercise, HMS Somerset undertook anti-detection training in Scotland in Loch Goil and Loch Fyne. As an anti-submarine warfare frigate it is important the ship is as quiet as possible to avoid detection by submarines fitted with sonar systems.
HMS Somerset completed a £20 million refit last year with improvements to the primary missile system and operations room. An innovative electronic communications system and galley (kitchen) improvements also improved life at sea.
HMS Somerset (F82) is a Type 23 Frigate. She is optimized for Anti-Submarine Warfare, but also has an armament of Sea Wolf and Harpoon Missiles, alongside 4.5 inch and 30mm guns, making her capable of tackling a variety of missions. Somerset has an embarked Lynx Mk8 helicopter. The Ship is powered by electric motors to make her quiet or gas turbines to allow rapid transit to wherever she is needed. The crew of 185 men and women are trained, motivated and proud to serve on the West Country’s favourite warship.
HM Naval Base Clyde will also be taking part and planning the exercise with up to 150 extra personnel with one third of reservists.
Both RAF Lossiemouth and RAF Leuchars will also be involved in the massive exercise. Lossiemouth will be deploying Tornado GR4 aircraft and hosting maritime patrol aircraft from the US, Canada, France and Germany, while Typhoon aircraft will leave from RAF Leuchars.
Skills practised include maritime task force deployment; mine countermeasures; counter-piracy, drugs and insurgency; electronic warfare, anti-submarine and anti-surface warfare, logistics and support training and air-land integration and air maritime integration.
Another essential part of preparation for real-world operations is the lack of GPS and the exercise will replicate GPS jamming. This will be confined to a remote area with the co-operation of authorities, including aviation and maritime communities have been consulted and the impact of minimised.