HMS Illustrious joins training mission with US sub

TARGET Able Seaman Specialist Jack Vant fires over a soft nosed projectile attached to a rope to the USNS Arctic during a replenishment at sea. Pictures: LA(Phot) Dan Rosenbaum
TARGET Able Seaman Specialist Jack Vant fires over a soft nosed projectile attached to a rope to the USNS Arctic during a replenishment at sea. Pictures: LA(Phot) Dan Rosenbaum
The Russian destroyer Vice Admiral Kulakov as seen from HMS Somerset in the Moray Firth

Royal Navy ship shadows a Russian destroyer

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LURKING below the waves, a US submarine breaks the surface alongside HMS Illustrious.

The Portsmouth-based carrier and Type 23 frigate HMS Westminster have been conducting exercises with the USS Dallas in the Gulf of Oman.

The Royal Navy duo are part of the UK’s Response Force Task Group, which is on its annual Cougar deployment.

The aim of the exercise is to build on the navy’s ability to work with other nations.

So HMS Westminster was tasked with hunting down the sub in the warm and shallow waters of the Gulf.

Captain Hugh Beard, HMS Westminster’s commanding officer, said: ‘It has been a busy period for Westminster since leaving the Suez Canal, with invaluable training and co-operation with our key allies in the region.

‘We are now looking forward to contributing to the wider maritime security in the Indian Ocean and the Gulf as part of our ongoing mission.’

The exercise was broken down into three sections.

First, the ships tested the performance of their sensors, along with USS Dallas.

Then, HMS Westminster, along with RFA Fort Victoria, RFA Fort Austin, and USS Bulkeley had to escort HMS Illustrious along a passage while evading detection and simulated torpedo attacks by USS Dallas.

In the final phase, the American submarine tried to locate and destroy RFA Fort Austin, while the other ships provided protection.

Petty Officer Underwater Warfare George Linehan said: ‘This was an excellent opportunity to work with our close allies in anti-submarine warfare.

‘The Royal Navy has again demonstrated how effective a Type 23 frigate can be

in a multinational task group.’

Apart from the anti-submarine hunt, HMS Westminster has conducted several replenishments at sea, including a dual operation with HMS Illustrious and RFA Fort Victoria.