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NAVY NEWS, JANUARY 2011 Due Diligence

A CHANGE is as good as a rest. Just ask RFA Diligence. After more than two years in the Gulf region largely serving as a floating workshop for Allied warships, the repair ship was pressed into front-line duties. The auxiliary took her place in the line with other international warships currently assigned to Combined Task Force 150. The group is one of the longest-standing naval forces in the region, formed in the wake of the September 11 atrocities to stop illegal activity in waters east of Suez.

New Iron age dawns

THIS impressive sight means two things: 1. The WEO is happy because

Seawolf has successfully left its silo. 2. The ship’s about to deploy. In this case, the ship is HMS Iron Duke. And the deployment is east of Suez. Now this is, we’re told, the

Portsmouth frigate’s very first appearance east of the great man- made waterway in her two-decade career – extremely unusual as the Type 23s rarely go anywhere other than the Gulf or Indian Ocean. Structural issues with Iron Duke meant that she’s typically deployed either to the North Atlantic or the South. As they’ve now been fixed, it means that she can head for the Gulf.

Which is exactly what she’ll be doing later this month to take over Operation Telic duties from HMS Cumberland. After a signifi cant maintenance package over the summer, Iron Duke spent the autumn conducting trials and training in preparation for her deployment. One of the highlights was her

Seawolf shoot; it’s a pre-requisite for a 23 about to deploy that her main air defence system is working.

In a tense week in the South Coast Exercise areas, plagued by the usual suspects of shipping and bad weather, the frigate completed last-minute Seawolf tests and trials before two successful fi rings. After that it was time to get acquainted with the ship’s fl ight and their Lynx Mk 8 helicopter. 228 fl ight will serve as part of Iron Duke’s ship’s company until the return from deployment. With propulsion, aviation,

weapon and sensor systems proved, focus turned to training. A week helping the students

of PWO Course 162 provided a warm up to the main event – DCT.

Directed Continuation Training is bespoke training for a ship, adapted to meet the needs of its impending deployment and provided by those nice folk at FOST. Having completed a six-week package of Operational Sea Training in June, most of the Iron Ducks knew what to expect from the FOSTies. However the familiar two weeks of core warfare and Chemical, Biological, Radiological, Nuclear and Damage Control was followed by something new for the ship – Telic mission rehearsal. Over a week, the sailors practised drills many new drills: defending oil platforms; protecting the ship against Fast Attack Craft; transiting choke points such as the Straits of Hormuz; and conducting boarding operations with the recently-embarked Royal Marines team from FPGRM.

While Iron Duke has a lot of

experience – and success – at counter-narcotics boardings, preparations for the higher- threat environment of the Gulf resulted in many lessons and quite a bit of fi ne tuning under the guiding hand of FOST staff. “The ship’s company has

worked hard to get her ready for deployment,” said CO Cdr Nick Cooke-Priest. “Now we’re looking forward to getting into theatre and getting on with our operational business.”

ESCORTED by an Offshore Raiding Craft of

Group Royal Marines, the nation’s ultimate weapon returns home from patrol

to the Clyde. But we’re more interested in the

ballistic missile submarine HMS Vanguard. The fourth ship in the £6bn

Ship Dragon – than

futuristic grey outline on the left of CPO(Phot) Tam McDonald’s rather imposing photograph – Her Majesty’s

Type 45 programme is also making her way home after four weeks of “very successful” initial sea trials off the Scottish West Coast. A mixed civilian-RN crew took charge of the destroyer for her fi rst spell at sea – the ship is still offi cially in the hands of her builder, BAE Systems. Dragon is the fi rst of the


‘Batch 2’ Type 45s to put to sea (there are subtle differences between the initial three destroyers, Daring,

and Diamond, and the remainder of the sextet, Dragon, Defender and Duncan).


effectively brought the curtain down on a year when, says the Type 45 project’s leader, Cdre Steve Brunton, the class “arrived”. He added: “We’ve achieved

everything we set out to achieve in 2010. It’s probably been the busiest year to date for the programme.” All

six ships are now in the

water. Three Type 45s are in RN hands (Daring, Dauntless and Diamond), two in service (Daring and Dauntless), one has passed through OST and conducted its fi rst overseas

exercise (Daring)

and the Sea Viper main armament has been successfully fi red (Dauntless).

By the end of this year, Daring Her successful trials

he t

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and Dauntless will either have deployed or be on deployment for the fi rst time, while Diamond will be in commission, while the ships they replace – the venerable Type 42s – will be increasingly phased out.

month, followed by the Fighting G in June. The very last 42, HMS Edinburgh, will bow out in 2013 when HMS Duncan enters service. Between now and then, says

Cdre Brunton, there is still a lot of work to do on the Darings. The class has not been without its issues – the ships feature 80 per cent technology which is new to the Senior Service. But with the arrival of each

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one key message to get across is that there is more to them than Sea Viper: they have a large flight deck, a lot of accommodation space for up to 60 Royal Marines. They are extremely versatile ships,” Cdre Brunton added. He continued: “The message

about Type 45 is that it is a success story.

changing “The ships

future carrier and the Type 26 frigates, they’ll change the way we do business.

show off the best of the UK, the best of industry and the best of the Royal Navy – these ships are the future heart of the Navy.”

“They are the ideal platforms to technology. With the are

vessel, the problems are becoming fewer and fewer. Dauntless had half the issues that Daring suffered from to begin with, and Diamond half the number of problems again. “The Type 45s are not without problems – but then we don’t build prototypes. We build the first ship and we try to make it work first time,” the commodore added.

there’s an industrial base of 4,000 people working on the project, a 59-strong team at Abbey Wood, plus the ship’s companies.” Daring is currently undergoing a mini overhaul which among other upgrades will see her fitted with Phalanx

After more trials and training she’s earmarked to deploy for the first time.

to provide task group air defence protection – and Daring’s recent exercises with the USS Enterprise has more than proved the 45s can do it – the £1bn destroyers should not be seen as one-trick ponies. “Because the Type 45s are big,

Busy waters for trainees

ROOKIE warfare offi cers spent a week at sea off the Isle of Wight as they got to grips with the basics of their chosen branch. Students on the Initial Warfare Officer Foundation course joined P2000s HMS Raider and Blazer for a series of manoeuvres in the busy waters of the Solent . The 14-week course,

Dartmouth, marks the start of professional training for newly- promoted warfare officers. After time on the bridge trainer

at BRNC, the officers grab hands- on experience courtesy of the URNU boats.

run by

The programme including pilotage, coastal navigation and Officer of the Watch manoeuvres and berthing practice. The busy waters off Portsmouth and the Isle of Wight were made more challenging by the less-than- clement autumn weather which veered between brilliant sunshine and mist and fog which reduced visibility to under 400 yards. The trainees found themselves

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negotiating the patrol boats among sizeable transporters, ferries, yachts, the Southsea-Ryde hovercraft and the occasional RNLI boat.

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The force spreads its vessels across more than two million square miles of ocean – the Red Sea, Gulf of Aden, Indian Ocean and Gulf of Oman. In this instance, 150’s CO Cdre Greg Sammut RAN charged the RFA with surveillance and reconnaissance of various vessels of interest, as well as helping to compile a ‘pattern of life’ of movements on the high seas, from the benign (merchantmen and fi shermen plying their lawful trade) to potentially-suspicious activity. Diligence also worked closely alongside another 150 warships including US destroyer Winston S Churchill, Pakistani frigate PNS Khaibar (formerly HMS Arrow) and France’s FS Commadante Bouan. Working with these Allied


vessels, Diligence played the part of a suspect ship for boarding teams to search. By way of appreciation, each ship offered Diligence the opportunity to ‘cross deck’ enabling RFA personnel to spend time aboard a foreign warship, sharing experiences with counterparts. “Diligence is fi rst and foremost a repair ship – her workshops and maintenance facilities help sustain the worldwide reach of the Royal Navy,” said Capt Philip Hanton RFA, Diligence’s CO. “But the RFA is nothing if it is

not versatile.”



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