Portland piles on the pressure on NATO’s largest Atlantic sub hunt exercise
The Devonport-based warship has locked horns with ‘the enemy below’, joining colleagues from eight allied navies and nations concentrating their efforts in the Norwegian Sea on Exercise Dynamic Mongoose.
Hosted by either Iceland or Norway – this year participants are gathering in Reykjavik before the training begins in earnest on Monday – Dynamic Mongoose is one of two large-scale anti-submarine exercises NATO runs.
The current exercise tests collective abilities in the cold, open, deep waters of the Norwegian Sea and North Atlantic.
Dynamic Manta, held earlier this year off Sicily, does the same, but in warmer, shallower, more confined waters of the Mediterranean.
Depth, temperature, salinity and water layers in the ocean are key factors in submarine warfare, directly impacting on the effectiveness of sonar.
The Royal Navy is committed to both; a Merlin flight from RNAS Culdrose was dispatched to Manta to demonstrate its prowess in hunting submarines.
And one of the helicopters is also embarked on Portland: the combination of Merlin and a Type 23 frigate is the most potent in the Royal Navy’s anti-submarine warfare arsenal.
The aim of Dynamic Mongoose is to provide all participants with complex, realistic and challenging training which improves both individual and collective skills.
There are three boats to chase down, with ten warships and more than a dozen maritime patrol aircraft – including an RAF P8 Poseidon – and helicopters involved in the hunt.
“My specialist team of submarine hunters relish the formidable challenge of tracking down silent hunters – and the chance to learn and share tactics with like-minded allies,” said Portland’s Operations Officer Lieutenant Commander Tom Loxton.
The frigate is very well placed to contribute to the exercise having completed a multi-million-pound refit, followed by eight months of intensive trials and training to be declared fully operational at the end of last year.
Since then she’s been honing her submarine hunting skills off the East Coast of the USA with the US Navy, taking part in exercises in the Atlantic Ocean and patrolling in and around the UK.
“The warfighting capability that HMS Portland brings to bear for NATO operations is formidable – especially when tasked with hunting submarines in the North Atlantic,” said Commanding Officer, Commander Tim Leeder.
“This is nothing, however, compared to the capability and professionalism brought by my sailors on board.”