HMS Northumberland’s crew honed their anti-submarine warfare skills during a four-day “fight” in the fjords on Norway.

The Royal Navy say here that the frigate tested her mettle against the Norwegian Navy – in waters its submariners know like the back of their hands.

“Ahead of her security duties at the G7 summit in Cornwall, Northumberland was invited to join the hosts for Exercise Grüner Aal, played out in the confined waters around Bergen.

The war games provide a key training environment for the Norwegian Navy to practise live firing of torpedoes at various depths against realistic manoeuvring targets… and for surface vessels to practise their counter-measures.

The pandemic limited participation this year from international vessels, but Northumberland was able to join the host’s support ship Magnus Lagabøte, tug HS4 Mjølner. Doing its best to get Northumberland in its sights was the diesel-electric submarine HMNoS Uredd.

She’s tiny by comparison with Britain’s hunter-killer boats – but operating in home waters with a highly-skilled crew of only 21, being a small and very quiet submarine, she was an elusive target.”

The Royal Navy add that Mohawk Flight from 814 Naval Air Squadron at Culdrose used her sonobuoys (listening devices dropped in the ocean) and her ‘dipping’ sonar, lowered beneath the Merlin, “to locate and successfully track the Uredd’s movements throughout the exercise – and conducted simulated attacks to defend Northumberland”.

You can read more from the Royal Navy here.

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David
David
15 days ago

That must be very testing. Can the TAS be used in those waters or she relies solely on the Merlin?

Dave Wolfy
Dave Wolfy
15 days ago
Reply to  David

That bow sonar thingy might work, probably active.

David
David
15 days ago
Reply to  Dave Wolfy

“Ravers’ from another site mentioned the bow sonar on the 42s was next to useless and the space was used to stow gash – how good is T23 now sonar?

Deep32
Deep32
15 days ago
Reply to  David

Those are not the best sonar conditions for either a TA or Mainframe (bow sonar) to operate in, lots of background/flow noise and the steep sides will reflect any active signals, causing lots of false contacts.
Merlin with its ‘dipper’ and Sonobuoys is a far better combination in these circumstances.
The sonar (Bow/TA) used by the T23 is very very good, but is optimised for open ocean scenarios. It can be used in the littoral, but is less effective in that environment.

Gunbuster
Gunbuster
15 days ago
Reply to  Deep32

It’s a nightmare environment. TA is pretty much worthless. It’s all bow active or bow passive work and Helo ops.
2050 or 2150 are fantastic sets even in those testing conditions.
It makes me giggle like a 3 badge rock ape when people comment that T23 without a tail isn’t an asw asset. S 2050 is a fantastic set and can detect and hold. Contacts at well over 30 miles.

Deep32
Deep32
15 days ago
Reply to  Gunbuster

Spent lots of time on JW in the Hebrides crawling along as deep as possible keeping the array from dragging the bottom.
Always good fun if a little tense at times, certainly hard work, always used to have one unit just pinging away for the hell of it I’m sure, used to get on your nerves after a while. I’m sure they just switched it on and went to watch a movie or something!!😂😂

Gunbuster
Gunbuster
15 days ago
Reply to  Deep32

As good WEs we where watching movies! It’s the law.

That said its the same on skimmers trying not to snag the array. So short stay deployments and watching the speed.

Andy P
Andy P
15 days ago
Reply to  Deep32

Or having to put a few ‘sticks’ up so the skimmers could find you to practice their attacks.  😂 

Gunbuster
Gunbuster
15 days ago
Reply to  David

Depends what sonar your T42 had. If it was retrofitted with 2016 it was OK. You could hold an active contact at over 30K yds. That was 1970s tech. S 2050 is well ahead of that standard.

Trevor G
Trevor G
15 days ago

Isn’t this the very sort of scenario in which you would need a ship launched torpedo system such as mTLS or Asroc? Just asking because it isn’t clear whether the T26 will have either option available, so if the helicopter is u/s or the weather is not cooperating you could detect the sub but be unable to do anything about it.

Pete
Pete
15 days ago
Reply to  Trevor G

Or given the tight sub surface geography you don’t detect until virtually on top of each other…must be similar to outer and inner Hebrides.

Deep32
Deep32
15 days ago
Reply to  Pete

It makes for a challenging environment to operate in!!

Supportive Bloke
Supportive Bloke
15 days ago
Reply to  Trevor G

T26 has MK41 VLS so will be able to take anything Mk41 qualified: the option is there. If you are around the shores of a friendly then land based helos/P8 etc are also an option.

There has to be a realistic usage case before adding weapons to the shopping / inventory list.

It all depends what you want to focus on fighting.

The Russian focus and threat is mainly big nuclear lumps. China is really the same as it is too far for small boats to travel.

Trevor G
Trevor G
15 days ago

I understand those points but they presuppose that the decision makers have a good knowledge of the nature of the next conflict, which is not supported by history. The RAF spent decades preparing for deep strike into Eastern europe, then in reality found itself looking for Scuds in the desert, or 4 guys with RPGs in a HiLux. With regard to onboard a/s torpedoes, just about every serious navy has this capability, are they all wrong?

Sonik
Sonik
15 days ago
Reply to  Trevor G

You make a very valid point, but I think it’s fair to say some lessons appear to have already been learnt here.

ASW and ASuW are not asymmetric by their very nature – adversaries need expensive assets to be in the game at all – so it’s the same old story of capability race.

And on the asymmetric front, isn’t that exactly where T31 is positioned? And still everyone complains that it’s under-armed!

TrevorH
TrevorH
15 days ago
Reply to  Trevor G

Indeed.
It would be good if Toyota could hide a GPS sender in all their HiLuxes they build. Then we could blot the bad guys at our leisure

Paul42
Paul42
15 days ago

Realistically Type 26 needs Asroc and and an anti-ship missile in its Mk 41 vls It will already have Air defence via Sea Ceptor, the load could be split down the middle, or divided based on the primary threat at the time.

Supportive Bloke
Supportive Bloke
15 days ago
Reply to  Paul42

It would be a bit of a waste to fill the whole VLS with ASROC? AShM will probably be canister launched. So that leaves land attack (cruise) and plenty of slots fir other goodies.

Paul42
Paul42
15 days ago

Very true, if we coukd fit a cannister launched ASM, then add ASROC and say Tomahawk Block V that would be a very impressive array of firepower in one vessel, which of course is exactly why that won’t happen……..I would suspect a 26 will get the VLS Launched version of cannister launched ASMs fitted to the 31s,

Supportive Bloke
Supportive Bloke
15 days ago
Reply to  Paul42

It is easier to bolt on canisters than add VLS!!

Gunbuster
Gunbuster
15 days ago

Stop it!!!

You know full well it isn’t plug and play and you cannot bolt on stuff willy nilly.

😂

Supportive Bloke
Supportive Bloke
15 days ago
Reply to  Gunbuster

Too true it isn’t bolt on or plug and play.

But the reality is that it would be easier to integrate than cutting the thing open to put a VLS in place.

So I would rather RN started with the VLS in place and then other options are possible if they are really needed and the considerable time effort and investment is justified……

Paul42
Paul42
15 days ago

Type 26 has Mk41 vls in its build?

Supportive Bloke
Supportive Bloke
15 days ago
Reply to  Paul42

Yup

It is T31 that doesn’t

Quentin D63
Quentin D63
15 days ago
Reply to  Paul42

It will interesting to see what ASW/ASuW mix the Canadian and Aussies put into their T26 VLS if they both go for cannister ASMs. Let’s hope the RN is just as good. I wonder if any UAVs will be in the mix?

Paul T
Paul T
15 days ago
Reply to  Quentin D63

Canada is going for Canister Launched NSM for its FSC,Australia has yet to decide (AFAIK) on which Canister Launched System it will have .

Jonesy
Jonesy
13 days ago
Reply to  Paul T

The Aussies have signed on to work up LRASM-SL with the Yanks. Apparently they’re sorting out a new booster to replace the test units Mk114 unit off the VLA.

Gunbuster
Gunbuster
15 days ago
Reply to  Paul42

Why?
Asroc with a 1960s bastardised Mk 46 torpedo is as much use as dropping a Mk 11 DC on a deep diving Nuk boat.
Pointless.
Merlin carries 4 Sting Ray for hours out to far beyond the Asrocs range and the shipboard mag has space for many many reloads for the Helo.
ASROC… Shoot it and that’s it its gone. An empty tube with nothing to replace it.
If you do your job right a sub will never get close enough (10 km) for an Asroc shot anyway.

Paul42
Paul42
15 days ago
Reply to  Gunbuster

Firstly, your helicopter cannot fly in certain weather conditions and requires maintenance and servicing so it cannot be guaranteed to be available so you need another system to attack the submarine. ASROC is now known as the Vertical Launch anti-submarine missile (VLA) and the latest version RUM-39C has the Mk54 lightweight hybrid Torpedo, but it is believed Stingray MoD 1 (believed to be superior to Mk54) can easily be integrated ( the RN has already noted this) An extended range VLA was under development and Japan now has the Type-07 VLA which flies at supersonic speeds with a range of… Read more »

Last edited 15 days ago by Paul42
Gunbuster
Gunbuster
15 days ago
Reply to  Paul42

As I said I have never ever had a Helo not launch for Asw…The ship can always achieve a Flying courses for just about any wind and sea condition at whatever Helo load profile. I did the FDO job for a long long time as well launching and receiving helos in all sorts of sea states. If its to bad to launch its to bad to detect on a sub and the surface ship. When that’s the case you do the maintenance. You also do the maintenance when you can or defer it. That’s what the flight do and they… Read more »

Meirion X
Meirion X
15 days ago
Reply to  Gunbuster

Yes again you right GB, common sense warfare in practice!

Klonkie
Klonkie
15 days ago
Reply to  Gunbuster

cheers for the insights Gunbuster – really interesting

Airborne
Airborne
14 days ago
Reply to  Gunbuster

And once again the GB shoots and scores.

AV
AV
15 days ago
Reply to  Paul42

Sorry Paul but would take a Merlin over most other options you’ve discussed.

Paul42
Paul42
15 days ago
Reply to  AV

Ideally your helicopter will be your first line of attack. But with the RN down to just 28 x Wildcats and under 30 Merlins things arn’t ideal. Add to that the decision to extend out of service date for Merlin to 2040. Obsolescence issues are going to arise and its been accepted that the number of maintenance hours required per flight hours will rise……in an environment where soviet submarine activity is increasing, the Type 26 needs an alternative and VLA is the only real option out there and the RN is fully aware of that. They are also aware that… Read more »

AV
AV
15 days ago
Reply to  Paul42

Morning Paul, understand your point with regards alternatives but in the context of the initial discussion the Merlin would be the tool of choice, even with alternative ship launched options. Theres a very good reason the type 26 will have the Merlin.

ChariotRider
ChariotRider
15 days ago
Reply to  Paul42

Hi Paul,

Another option would be rather than spend the money in integrating StingRay onto the VLA spend it on fitting dipping sonar and sonobuoys onto Wildcat. The South Korean’s have that capability so integration costs have already been covered. That would nearly double your ASW helo force.

Cheers CR

Gunbuster
Gunbuster
14 days ago
Reply to  Paul42

Sting ray is considerably heavier than the USN weapons and has a different center of gravity so the flight profile for asroc would require a rework. The arming wires, battery ports cover(BPC) , umbilical connection, tail fins, pump jet, parachute attachment are nothing like a Mk46.theyare all in a different place. A major redesign of the Asroc rocket motor to torpedo interface coupling would be required. How DO you get the BPC to rip off prior to water entry. If the BPC remains in place that’s it you are dead in the water. No power, nothing. The BPC is held… Read more »

Meirion X
Meirion X
14 days ago
Reply to  Gunbuster

Thanks again for this info GB, your are a Star!
You are right, Asroc is Not worth the cost of it to the RN.

Would it be worth while for the RN to procure more Merlin now?

Last edited 14 days ago by Meirion X
Gavin Gordon
Gavin Gordon
15 days ago
Reply to  Trevor G

Could not agree more.

Gunbuster
Gunbuster
15 days ago
Reply to  Trevor G

In many many years as a backendy working the flight deck with a ships flight I can say that the flight never ever missed an ASW sortie due to bad weather or unservicability. That’s 3 x 22, 1x T42, 2 x T23, 1x LPD. We missed a lot of sorties when the tail fell off a lynx when it landed on in the Adriatic but they where anti surface sorties. . We had 2x lynx so we where OK. The lynx got craned off in two parts in Bari, pushed around the dockyard and came back to the UK on… Read more »

Last edited 15 days ago by Gunbuster
Trevor G
Trevor G
15 days ago
Reply to  Gunbuster

Thanks for your flight deck experience, that is reassuring. I don’t have that myself, but I live at approx the same latitude as Bergen and do have knowledge of weather in northern waters. I have seen discussion of operating off frigates in sea state 5 but that is only slightly above average in these parts (and below average in winter!)

Glass Half Full
Glass Half Full
15 days ago
Reply to  Trevor G

For the future, instead of TLS, I would look at the 5″ gun Kingfisher system for sonobouy and depth charge deployment, the new light weight torpedo for VLA, PROTEUS UAS for sonobouy and possibly dipping sonar, along with Merlin for sonobouy, dipping sonar and torpedo, with Wildcat also for torpedo delivery. The issue for TLS is the very short range of Sting Ray and similar light weight torpedoes versus the range of a submarine launched torpedo. Give the new lightweight torpedo more range and it probably ends up being larger, and heavier, impacting other delivery systems … and still not… Read more »

ChariotRider
ChariotRider
15 days ago

Hi Glass Half Full, The Kingfisher system looks interesting, however, the sonobuoy may not yet be proven. Janes reported late last year that planning for trials only started in November 2020 so still some way to go. I also read somewhere recently that there were considerable issues with the launch g-loads, so standard sonobuoys are unlikely candidates for the system. A specialist sonobuoy would drive costs up, at least initially. Having said that and given Gunbuster’s comments above about escort sonar effectiveness I think that the depth charge would be a significant possibility. The Mk54 Mod IV 5″ gun has… Read more »

ChariotRider
ChariotRider
14 days ago
Reply to  ChariotRider

Sorry meant MK45 5″ Gun…

CR

Glass Half Full
Glass Half Full
14 days ago
Reply to  ChariotRider

I agree, many a slip twixt cup and lip, and Kingfisher is just a BAES concept at this stage, with a lot to prove. There’s no assurance that the RN see this as a desirable solution either, given as GB says its very rare that its not possible to launch a helicopter due to sea states/weather and in such cases may not even be necessary. I would expect a RWUAS, with autonomous take off and landing, to be able to handle rougher sea states even better. Kingfisher along with a VLA is really an insurance play IMV, that provides a… Read more »

ChariotRider
ChariotRider
14 days ago

Hi Glass Half Full, I can only suggest that the ristriction is not so much the electronics, as you say there are guided and programmable rounds already in service, rather it is the senitive accoustic tranducers that are the challenge. From what I have read they are ‘solid state’ and use megnetic mechanic processes, but I guess that there is a trade off between mechanical strength and acoustic sensitivity. I would also agree RWUAS present obvious opportunities and the RN appears to be looking closely at the possibilities. As you say the T83, and I would also suggest T32, would… Read more »

Glass Half Full
Glass Half Full
14 days ago
Reply to  ChariotRider

Interesting. I haven’t done your reading on the topic but it reads like what you’re describing is Micro-Electro-Mechanical Systems (MEMS) technology, which is used in some sonobouy solutions apparently. Learn something new everyday I guess. If that’s the case, then it might take a new design of the sensor to meet the acceleration requirements for firing from a gun, although ironically a major application for MEMS is as accelerometers. On RWUAS, Leonardo Yeovil were suggesting their 3 tonne concept should be capable of 10-12 hour endurance, with the concept targeted to fly in 2024/5. So same weight and size class… Read more »

Gary
Gary
15 days ago

Where have her Harpoon missiles gone? Can’t see the missile launchers in the images.

Marked
Marked
15 days ago
Reply to  Gary

The great anti ship weaponry depository in the sky. Same as those for every ship seen these days. The mod’s anti shipping strategy being to pray the capability isn’t needed.

Last edited 15 days ago by Marked
dan
dan
15 days ago
Reply to  Marked

At least arm her with a few NSM like some U.S. ships are now getting. Jeez. It’s not rocket science.

Sean
Sean
15 days ago
Reply to  dan

The NSM is a contender for the interim anti-ship-missile requirement the MoD put out a couple of months ago.

Ron5
Ron5
15 days ago
Reply to  dan

I see what you did there 🙂

Airborne
Airborne
14 days ago
Reply to  dan

Anti ship missiles…..mmmm…thats deffo rocket science…. 😂 

Gunbuster
Gunbuster
14 days ago
Reply to  dan

I’ll bite…

Missiles are rocket science!

🚀🤓

ChariotRider
ChariotRider
15 days ago
Reply to  Marked

Hi Marked, My understanding is that the RN has retained the Harpoon at least on the T23’s until the interim missile enters service (assuming it arrive on time). There are some great photos of the the RN’s currently deployments on Navy Lookout. HMS Richard is seen silhoutted against the sunset with her Wildcat lunching flares. You can make out the Harpoon launchers in place. There is also a great photo of HMS Kent sailing with the Spanish Navy’s sail training ship and the Harpoon Launchers are also visible in that photo. Nothing on the T45’s however. The article also states… Read more »

Lusty
Lusty
14 days ago
Reply to  ChariotRider

They built and commissioned HMS Richard pretty fast! So fast that I didn’t even know she existed!  😋 

Meirion X
Meirion X
14 days ago
Reply to  Lusty

It is HMS Richmond, really!

Lusty
Lusty
13 days ago
Reply to  Meirion X

Aye – just having a bit of fun!

Gunbuster
Gunbuster
14 days ago
Reply to  ChariotRider

The RN has many systems that have a CCU, a Certificate of Clearance for Use. The Cert clears the system to be used and lists the restrictions associated with it. These are usually things they have been found during testing and system use that affects system performance in some way. It means the system is not 100% IAW the original service spec but its good enough to use. Some CCUs are in place for years and are never rescinded as the issue they cover are not worth the effort to fix for the effect on performance they have. It could… Read more »

Gunbuster
Gunbuster
14 days ago
Reply to  Marked

Capability gapping was managed with Harrier… Much hue and cry when SHAR and the CVS went but for the period we did not have them the RN managed.
Its not ideal by any stretch but it is what it is.

Gunbuster
Gunbuster
15 days ago
Reply to  Gary

She is not doing an active deployment to a threat area so no need for ASMs.

Bringer of facts
Bringer of facts
15 days ago

Gotta be said, the the type 23 packs a good range of weapons and sensors….

Ron5
Ron5
15 days ago

Fine looking ship.

RobW
RobW
15 days ago

Stop it. Positivity is not welcome here 🤣

Monkey spanker
Monkey spanker
15 days ago
Reply to  RobW

Even just leave the empty launchers on then we never know if they are there or not. Surprised mod haven’t thought of that lol

Quentin D63
Quentin D63
15 days ago
Reply to  Monkey spanker

We could go with “dummy” or “inflatable” missiles… Lol 😁.

Gunbuster
Gunbuster
15 days ago
Reply to  Monkey spanker

T22 had empty Exocet cannisters on the front all the time in the latter years.