The submarine hunters scored ‘several kills’ when they joined NATO’s biggest anti-submarine exercise in the Mediterranean, say the Royal Navy.

According to a Royal Navy release, Canada, France, Germany, Greece, Spain, Turkey, Britain, the USA plus hosts Italy – all took part.

“The workout is one of two NATO runs each year to test hunters and hunted to the max – Manta staged in the warmer waters of the Mediterranean, Mongoose in cooler Norwegian waters later in the year, as the temperature of the ocean (as well as salinity and other characteristics) affects the performance and effectiveness of sonar. A 20-strong team of aircrew – two pilots, one observer and one aircrewman for each sortie – supported by 40 engineers, technical staff, weather forecasters, safety and logistics experts, supported the Merlin Mk2 from Culdrose.

It shared Sicilian skies with five long-range maritime patrol aircraft, plus anti-submarine helicopters including the Italian version of the Merlin. The aircraft all peppered the Ionian Sea with sonobuoys (listening devices placed along the route a suspected submarine might take).

If they picked up any suspicious underwater movements, the helicopters were directed in for the kill, first lowering their dipping sonar into the water to both pinpoint a submarine’s location and its identity, then ‘destroy’ it – in the case of the Culdrose Merlin using Sting Ray torpedoes or depth charges.”

Rear Admiral Andrew Burcher, in charge of NATO submarine operations, said:

“With each iteration of a submarine that is developed, they improve the quiet aspect of the submarine. As countries continue to develop and build submarines, they become quieter. So it’s important that that we improve our ability to find those quiet submarines.”

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