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NAVY NEWS, JUNE 2010

Daggers drawn

Illuminating times for Iron Duke

AFTER some much-needed TLC over the winter, the Iron Duck is back with a bang. Eighty-seven bangs to be

precise, all fired by her 4.5in main gun during a day’s gunnery at the Cape Wrath range, aided by the spotters of 148 Commando Battery. Exercise Joint Warrior was the

first substantial run out for HMS Iron Duke since her triumphant drug-busting deployment in the Caribbean last autumn. The latest Joint Warrior war games saw the Type 23 frigate attached to a US-led task group, playing the role of the ‘Dragonian Navy’.

The gunnery fi rings included a ‘Co-ordinated Illumination’, conducted as night fell: star shell rounds were fi red interspersed with high explosive shells, to provide troops ashore with simultaneous illumination and fi re support during a simulated advance – the fi rst time an RN ship has carried out such a fi re mission in at least fi ve years. “Eighty-seven rounds and a Co-ordinated Illumination was ‘in at the deep-end stuff’ as gunnery offi cer, but it was a true team effort by all involved and made for a really satisfying day,” said Lt Rich Hewitt... who only joined the frigate as PWO(A) just a week before the exercise. Calling into Faslane at the end of the exercise, the ship embarked cadets from her affi liated units – TS Dido of Bolton and TS Iron Duke from Merseyside; they spent three days on board. “The cadets were great – they got really stuck into life on board, helping out on the bridge, in the galley, and even in the ME spaces cleaning for captain’s rounds! We were all really impressed with their enthusiastic attitude,” said RPO Graham Gregory, who organised the cadets’ visit. A hometown visit to Hull

followed – the fi rst since 2008 (a visit last year was sadly cancelled when the ship was deployed at short notice). For passage up the Humber, Iron Duke embarked the Lord Mayor of Hull, Cllr Karen Woods, fl ying the fl ag of the Admiral of the Humber, one of the lord mayor’s other titular responsibilities. The visit gave the ship’s

company a chance to call in on their offi cial charity, the Hull and East Yorkshire Women and Children’s Hospital. They handed over a cheque for more than £1,700 to its maternity unit, proceeds of numerous fundraising events aboard during her 2009 deployment, including a Record Breakers evening and go-fast racing nights on the flight deck; ‘go fast boats’ were substituted for more traditional horses (although from the image above they look more like yachts than the drug traffickers’ favoured means of transport...).

● Staying sharp – an impressive vertical view of HMS Northumberland during Exercise Khunjar H add

Picture: LA(Phot) Caroline Davies, FRPU East

WE’VE been here before.

Fourteen times apparently. Last year it was Her Majesty’s

obligatory task force group shot. But best of all for the

Ship Portland. In 2010 two Royal Navy warships

dd

– frigate HMS Northumberland and survey ship HMS Enterprise – flew the flag for the UK at the 15th incarnation of the Omani- run Exercise Khunjar Hadd (Sharp Dagger). Some nine

warships from Oman, the UK, USA and France converged on Wudam Naval Base north of Muscat.

While the command teams headed to briefings ahead of the impending

sailors got to know each other at the Khunjar Hadd ‘olympiad’ with a day of volleyball, football tug-of-war and swimming. And then to sea and the exercise areas in the Gulf of Oman. Apart from a sizeable Omani naval presence, the host nation also commits plenty of air power... ...like F16 Fighting Falcons which conducted a series of simulated air attacks against the task force.

lated battle damage and simulated casualties. Impressive as the sight of a fully-loaded jet fighter screaming over the ocean is, it wasn’t the stand-out moment of Sharp Dagger for the ship’s company of HMS Enterprise. No, that was provided by the sight of every ship involved in the exercise in line astern firing against flare targets simultaneously during a night-time gunnery serial. By day, there were Officer of the Watch manoeuvres, communication and aerial exercises,

That resulted in simu-

ks u-

f (simulated) minefield and the passage through a exercise,

Allied e

Enterprisers was the chance to play awkward so-and-sos as they pretended to be the crew of a merchant vessel, subject of a boarding by US Navy teams. The Brits played being ‘com-

pliant’ (the Yanks are welcome) and ‘non compliant’ (the Yanks aren’t welcome); the latter saw various surprises prepared for the American sailors, including hidden weapons and a hostage scenario.

“Khunjar Hadd was

the

Enterprise’s Commanding Officer Cdr Jon Holmes. “That’s rarely available to Enterprise – and makes a change from our normal survey operations.” When

Omani waters on warry exercises, Enterprise is on an extended deployment to the region. The first few months of her mission are devoted to surveying the approaches to the new port of Duqm, half-way between Salalah and Muscat. It’s undergoing a transformation into one of Oman’s most important ports,

that demands an overhaul of maritime charts so that the large vessels expected to use Duqm can navigate safely. As for Northumberland,

she’s taken over from her sister Lancaster on an extremely varied mission east of Suez. The two frigates met up in the Red Sea and conducted a formal handover of responsibilities. Like Lancaster,

HMS Northumberland will divide her and not chasing around

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to buy a new foetal monitor. Upon returning to Pompey, the ship held a families’ day to show loved ones what goes on. And now Iron Duke’s bound for Freetown. That’s Freetown in ‘Brownia’, not Freetown, Sierra Leone, one of the fictitious places which feature as part of the various scenarios dreamed up by the Flag Officer Sea Training organisation. The frigate has six weeks of BOST to endure, laying the foundations for her next deployment.

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● HMS Enterprise conducts RAS approaches with an Omani warship – as seen from FS Guepratte

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for working in a task group with foreign units,”

a short, but intensive exercise, which provided an excellent opportunity

said

time between supporting the concerted anti-piracy effort in the Gulf of Aden and Somali Basin and her broader mission of general maritime security (stopping drugs/arms smuggling and people trafficking) under the banner of Operation Calash. With

temperatures

Northumberland had entered the Suez Canal, determined to complete a growing modern naval tradition: rowing the man-made waterway. Volunteers

rising,

ship’s time through the canal by each rowing 2,000 metres, all in aid of the ship’s charity, the

look to beat the

Calvert Trust; it runs outdoor activities at Kielder for people with disabilities. All willing participants turned up in sporting attire... apart from LPT Jackson and LLogs Dugmore who chose to do their stints in a multifab survival suit and full fire- fighting rig respectively.

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