Royal Navy patrol vessel HMS Medway and RFA Wave Knight undertake demanding training to tackle drug smugglers and major disasters in the Caribbean

THE Royal Navy’s Caribbean task group has joined forces for the first time this year to take part in the region’s largest military exercise, training to tackle drug traffickers and major disasters.

Thursday, 24th June 2021, 12:13 pm

HMS Medway, based in Portsmouth when not on missions, and support ship RFA Wave Knight linked up for the Tradewinds 2021 exercise off the coast of Guyana in South America.

The fortnight-long training exercise involves forces from 13 nations operating across the Caribbean with a focus on stopping drug traffickers and providing humanitarian relief during disasters.

The demanding training saw vessels manoeuvre just 250 yards apart – testing the piloting abilities of the crew onboard the 30,000-tonne tanker RFA Wave Knight.

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A Wildcat helicopter from RFA Wave Knight passed over HMS Medway during training in the Caribbean. Picture: The Royal Navy

The vessel’s Wildcat helicopter – callsign Knightrider – tested the response of gunnery teams on the tanker, while Medway undertook boarding drills in preparation for counter-drugs operations, with its commando sniper team providing cover.

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Captain Simon Herbert, RFA Wave Knight’s commanding officer, said: ‘Our experience, expertise and ability to work closely with our allies and partners contributed significantly in making Exercise Tradewinds a success.

‘The UK is committed to the Caribbean and has demonstrated a clear obligation to our Overseas Territories in the region, our Commonwealth partners and allies.’

Sailors on RFA Wave Knight's bridge coordinate manoeuvres. Picture: Royal Navy

Lieutenant Sam Stallard, HMS Medway’s navigator, added: ‘It’s been really great to work with our partners during Tradewinds. After two weeks of training together, it will be much easier to cooperate in the months ahead.’

On the water, the British vessels were joined by French patrol vessels Dumont d’Urville and La Confiance, US Coast Guard Cutter Winslow Griesser, Dutch Caribbean Coast Guard Cutter Jaguar P-810, Canadian coastal defence vessel HMCS Shawinigan, and Guyana coast guard ship Essequibo.

HMS Medway and RFA Wave Knight will make a brief visit to Bridgetown, Barbados, this weekend.

Vessels from 13 nations taking part in a major training exercise in the Caribbean. Picture: Royal Navy

The two ships will take part in a three-day disaster-relief exercise in Montserrat in early July, the first time both vessels have been able to demonstrate their combined abilities to provide emergency assistance..

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