EVERYTHING is ship-shape for HMS Northumberland as it heads off to deal with pirates and terrorists.
Sailors and Royal Marines from Northumberland’s namesake warship have been working as part of the UK Response Force Task Group in a major training exercise in the Mediterranean to make sure they are in tip-top condition for their deployment.
The Anglo-French exercise saw the Royal Navy warship play its part in chaperoning the huge French nuclear-powered aircraft carrier Charles de Gaulle off Corsica when it came under French command for a period.
The ship rehearsed repulsing a mock attack from 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.
Captain Commander Paddy Dowsett said the realistic exercise 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.
Commander 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.’’
After the exercise the frigate made use of the NATO ranges and training complex in Crete, which is where the calibration of radars, sonars and weapons is checked to ensure NATO ships can pass crucial information to each other accurately.
The 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 companies to hone their board and search skills.
The sailors from HMS Northumberland have now carried out their final boarding training and the ship is heading through the Suez Canal to begin policing patrol in the Indian Ocean.
She will relieve her sister ship HMS Sutherland and will be tasked with tackling piracy, terrorism and smuggling.