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15 minutes of fame for Talent

DON’T worry, our printer’s not gone all Andy Warhol on you.

During the exercise, The strange duotones on this page come courtesy

of the ‘periphot’ (periscope photographer) aboard HMS Talent who’s been rather busy. Above is the distinctive sight of a Type 23 frigate, a Merlin parked on her fl ight deck. The F238 tells you it’s Her Majesty’s Ship

Northumberland... ... and the cross hairs tell you she’s in the sights of

Talent as hunter and hunted play a game of cat and mouse in the Gulf of Oman. After a brief stand down period in the United Arab

Emirates, Talent resumed her East of Suez deployment with nine days of anti-submarine exercises in the Gulf of Oman. First up, Merlins from 820 NAS and American P3-C Orion maritime patrol aircraft (seen through the periscope, below) based in the region. Out here, both are more usually used for anti-

piracy/smuggling operations… … but they reverted to type to ‘play’ with Talent. After three days of being chased by air power, HMS

Northumberland weighed in. She too broke off from maritime security duties (see

page 16), throwing her 829 NAS Merlin into the mix, plus Sonar 2087 – a submarine’s nemesis. While all this faffi ng around was going on above,

Talent used her array of sensors and natural stealth to try to avoid detection, gather intelligence and strike back (her attacks were marked by the launching of customary green grenades). And with that all done, the hunted turned hunter

and carried out some training of her own. Firstly, an underwater look in which Talent passed only a few feet under the keel of the frigate to take photos (above right) and practise gathering intelligence on a ship’s underwater fi ttings. Talent’s watch leaders also got to conduct ‘eyes only’ training with Northumberland,


normally reserved for Perisher students. For the uninitiated, that means using periscope and

stopwatches (as many as four at a time) to work out a target’s bearing, range, course and speed… with the target charging down on you. “It is really important that warfare offi cers are able to use the periscope and mental arithmetic to keep the submarine safe at periscope depth while high-speed warships are operating very close to the submarine,” explained Talent’s CO Cdr Simon Asquith. Having completed one run, Tactics and Sonar

Offi cer Lt Cdr John Rider said. “It was a great opportunity to conduct this training at sea. It really focuses the mind to have a 5,000-ton warship charging you at 26kts.” I should coco…

both Talent and

Northumberland’s teams took up the chance to ‘cross-pol’ (ie trade places), which proved immensely popular for the lucky few. During the visits, the deeps took the opportunity

to dive into a well-earned shower, ring home and visit the frigate’s ops room, whilst their general service counterparts were treated to a day in the life of a submariner, with several sailors conducting simulated torpedo attacks on their own ship or trying their hand at surfacing the boat. Having completed training with our own forces,

Talent then carried out a highly- successful Submarine Tactical Exercise against a modern – and very capable – US Los Angeles-class fl eet boat. The scenario – right out of a Tom Clancy novel – pitched the two submarines against one another; furiously trying to outmanoeuvre each other in the deep, they tried to gain tactical advantage over the other and deliver the killer blow with a heavyweight torpedo.

Sounds like fun. “It has been a great opportunity for Talent to hone

her war-fi ghting skills and for our general service, Fleet Air Arm and US allies to practise quality anti- submarine training against a capable boat,” said Cdr Asquith.

“The cross-pol was a real highlight. It is always

great to be able to show off the boat and dispel (at least some) of the submarine myths.” Before embarking on the anti-submarine exercise,

Talent played host to an airman. Crabs and deeps aren’t typical bedfellows, so Commander Joint Operations Air Marshal Stuart Peach was keen to learn more about Talent and her men.

The boat falls within the Northwood-based senior

offi cer’s area of operations; he was on a fact-fi nding fl ying visit (pun intended) to military units in the Middle East. The air marshal was shown around Talent by her CO and showed particular interest in her Tomahawk cruise missiles, which can (and have in the past) delivered precision munitions on to a target over 1,000 miles away from a boat, and the submarine’s communications fi t which enables her to fi ght effectively either alone or as part of a task force. In addition, Air Marshal Peach was shown Sonar

2076, which is one of the most advanced submarine sonar systems fi tted to any boat in the world. Before leaving, Air Marshall Peach thanked Cdr Asquith for a very informative visit, commenting on the professionalism and positive attitude of Talent’s ship’s company. As for the boat, she’ll remain on patrol for a while

yet; she’s not due to return home to Devonport until early autumn.

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