Royal Navy ships HMS Westminster and HMS Kent backed by Merlin helicopters in submarine hunting exercise

TWO city-based warships have gone submarine hunting backed by a squadron of helicopters – and a foreign vessel named Thor.

Wednesday, 1st July 2020, 3:56 pm
Updated Wednesday, 1st July 2020, 4:55 pm

Both HMS Westminster and HMS Kent are in the Denmark Strait - a key strategic point in the Second World War and Cold War - with the Icelandic Coastguard ship.

Together they are involved in a two-week Nato exercise called Dynamic Mongoose.

During this Nato forces will hunt for five submarines, including British boat HMS Trenchant.

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On Monday, HMS Kent conducted a photographic exercise with HMS Westminster and Icelandic Coastguard ship Thor during the first day of exercise Dynamic Mongoose. Picture: Credit: LPhot Dan Rosenbaum

Water temperature is down to 9C and is three to six degrees chillier than British waters now.

Joining the ships are Merlin helicopters from 814 Naval Air Squadron, who are in turn backed by five long-range maritime patrol aircraft including the RAF's new P8 Poseidon.

Around 500 Royal Navy personnel are involved in the exercise.

Lieutenant Commander Chris Luke, flight commander of the Merlin embarked on HMS Westminster, said: ‘There are few opportunities where ships, submarines and aircraft all train together to collectively improve our anti-submarine warfare skills.

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‘The sea state and winds when operating in the High North can make flying conditions difficult.

‘Being able to hunt submarines while working with our latest P8 and those of our allies demonstrates the ability of maritime patrol aircraft and helicopters to work together, which has not been done for around ten years.’

Other submarines involved include three nuclear-powered boats, including Trenchant, and two diesel boats.

HMS Westminster’s commanding officer Commander Will Paston added: ‘Dynamic Mongoose provides Westminster with the ideal opportunity to practise anti-submarine warfare against challenging targets in company with NATO allies.

‘It is opportunities like this that allow Westminster to maintain a fighting edge – anti-submarine warfare is a particularly perishable skill – so that we remain ready should we be called on for real.’

The exercise finishes at the end of the week.

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