Portsmouth minehunter takes part in 'dialled-up' Royal Navy war games

REALISTIC combat simulation for Royal Navy warships has been ramped up – with a Portsmouth vessel leading the line.

Monday, 7th October 2019, 6:16 pm
Updated Thursday, 10th October 2019, 8:00 pm

A fortnight of war games has kicked off in the Clyde estuary, Scotland, giving naval crews a taste of real combat experience.

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In the exercise, ships leaving Faslane faced swarms of attacks from fast boats – the vessel of choice for terrorists attacking shipping in the Middle East.

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A member of HMS Sutherland's crew mans a Minigun during a wave of attacks from fast-attack speed boats. Picture: Royal Navy

Gunnery teams were called to arms to fend off massed assaults by fast-moving speed boats, with Portsmouth minehunter HMS Hurworth being the first ship to run the gauntlet.

Despite a Merlin Mk2 helicopter in the sky, the onus fell on the ship’s protection teams on both HMS Hurworth and frigate HMS Sutherland to fend off the swarms using machine-guns and handheld Gatling guns.

Lieutenant Commander Tom Knott, Sutherland’s second-in-command, said: ‘We really dialled up the complexity of this ‘beat-’em-up’ exercise – multiple fast-attack craft, the close proximity of land, our helicopter providing machine-gun support and a minehunter for us to protect.

‘This is realistic and highly-valuable training.

One of HMS Sutherland's gunners mans a General Purpose Machine Gun while minehunter HMS Hurworth manoeuvres ahead of the frigate. Picture: Royal Navy

‘It isn’t as simple as bringing guns to bear, however. We must consider rules of engagement and the implications of opening fire versus the escalation of diplomatic tensions.

‘It’s tense but this is what the Fighting Clan thrives on.’

The inaugural exercise has been described as ‘exactly’ the sort of attack ships fear, with lots of attackers, congested waters and erratically-moving enemies.

The Joint Warrior 19-2 exercise involves a dozen NATO countries, 16 warships, three submarines and nearly 60 aircraft.

The goal is to test the ability of air, sea and land forces to work together.

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