HMS Illustrious refuels at sea in readiness for key exercise

EN ROUTE HMS Illustrious meets up with the FS Somme
EN ROUTE HMS Illustrious meets up with the FS Somme

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HELICOPTER carrier HMS Illustrious has conducted a delicate refuelling operation with a French tanker while at sea.

The Portsmouth-based ship had to stay around 50m away from the FS Somme to allow fuel lines to pass from the tanker.

The operation, pictured, requires tight control over the movement of the ship to avoid any stress on the lines, which could break the procedure.

Usually conducted by the Royal Navy and the Royal Fleet Auxiliary, this operation saw the sailors working with their French counterparts and overcoming language barriers to get the refuelling done.

HMS Illustrious, an amphibious helicopter and commando carrier, is part of the Royal Navy’s Response Force Task Group, and is currently deployed on the Cougar 13 series of exercises.

During the four-month operation, which includes three other warships including Portsmouth-based HMS Westminster, and six Royal Fleet Auxiliary ships, Illustrious will undertake international engagement and training with UK allies through the region of the Mediterranean and the Arabian Gulf.