HMS Westminster and HMS Kent joined Icelandic Coast Guard ship Thor for the opening phase of Exercise Dynamic Mongoose.
The fortnight-long war game tests the ability of NATO forces to deal with the latest possible threats from submarines – combining air power and surface ships to hunt down five boats (three nuclear-powered, including British hunter-killer HMS Trenchant, and two traditional diesel submarines).
Dynamic Mongoose is run every year, alternating between Norway and Iceland with a specific focus on anti-submarine warfare in cool waters.
According to a news release:
“HMS Westminster and Kent were designed for submarine hunting in these very waters – although the Cold War was over by the time they entered service. The waters of the Denmark Strait are just 9°C – between three and six degrees colder than the sea around the UK right now. Temperature is one of the key factors in the effectiveness of sonar used by the frigates and their Merlin helicopters from 814 Naval Air Squadron.”
Joining the Merlins in Icelandic skies are five long-range maritime patrol aircraft, including, for the first time, the RAF’s new P8 Poseidon. The combination of numerous live assets to work with and like-minded submarine hunters sharing expertise and tactics, as well as the challenging weather and sea conditions make for a really demanding test for the 500 Royal Navy sailors, submariners and aviators taking part, say the Royal Navy.
“There are few opportunities where ships, submarines and aircraft all train together to collectively improve our anti-submarine warfare skills,” Lieutenant Commander Chris Luke, Flight Commander of the Merlin embarked on HMS Westminster, was quoted as saying.
“The sea state and winds when operating in the High North can make flying conditions difficult. Being able to hunt submarines while working with our latest P8 and those of our allies demonstrates the ability of maritime patrol aircraft and helicopters to work together, which has not been done for around ten years.”
The exercise runs until the end of next week.