HOVERING above the high seas, Royal Navy fliers kept their hunting skills fresh in a training exercise with a nuclear-powered submarine in the Arabian Gulf.
HMS St Albans and her Merlin helicopter were tasked with searching for navy submarine HMS Turbulent, which was playing the enemy.
And, as this picture shows, the sailors and airmen had no problem tracing Turbulent and engaging their opposite numbers.
After the operation came to an end, St Albans’ captain, Commander Tom Sharpe, dropped in to talk tactics with Turbulent’s crew – winching down onto the submarine.
He said: ‘This was an invaluable period of training that fine-tuned our anti-submarine tactics. The lessons learnt here will further enhance our ability to protect the vital shipping routes in the Middle East and serve as a reminder to all that we must ensure that hard earned anti-submarine warfare skills are not allowed to perish.’
As its eye in the sky, the Merlin aircraft gives St Albans a fighting chance of tracking deadly submarines lurking beneath the waves.
Both the warship and helicopter carry a range of sensors and weapons, to deter or destroy enemy boats.
St Albans has been busy ever since she left Portsmouth in February for a six-month tour of the Middle East.
The 4,900-tonne Type-23 frigate, nicknamed The Saint, has been patrolling shipping lanes and providing security for the Gulf region alongside ships from foreign navies.
Her work includes counter-terrorism, anti-piracy patrols, training exercises and diplomatic visits to foreign ports to promote the UK’s interests in the unstable area.
The operation with Turbulent came just weeks after the warship staged a daring rescue to pluck 13 Indian sailors to safety as their stricken oil tanker sank in the Gulf of Oman, as The News reported.
Cdr Sharpe said: ‘This is indicative of how flexible a frigate has to be on a deployment such as this.’