Royal Navy joins French-led international exercise in Indian Ocean
Patrol ship HMS Tamar was incorporated within the Jeanne d’Arc task group – the French Navy’s premier deployment of 2023 – working alongside ships and personnel from Australia, Canada, Japan, India and the USA for Exercise Laperouse, a multinational exercise in the Bay of Bengal.
Tamar, which has most recently been operating around the British Indian Ocean Territory, joined the French – frigate FS La Fayette and assault ship Dixmude – off Sri Lanka for a series of combined manoeuvres (gunnery, close approaches, choreographed movements), while sailors traded places with their counterparts for a brief experience of life in their respective navies.
The main exercise – named after French naval officer and explorer Jean-François de Galaup compte de Laperouse – tested both the individual and combined abilities of the seven warships taking part, sharpening the skills of personnel, and honing their abilities to work side-by-side with colleagues of different nationalities, often speaking different languages.
It saw participants split into three naval groups with the British vessel taking her place alongside the Dixmude and Japanese destroyer JS Suzutsuki.
After practising replenishing at sea – the difficult but vital manoeuvre of transferring supplies between ships on the move – the French assault ship dropped a series of targets into the Indian Ocean for participants to engage with gunnery.
HMS Tamar destroyed both her own targets as well as any left over by; bringing the gunnery to a successful conclusion.
“This was a great training environment for us to practice and prove our skills,” said Lieutenant Tom Powys Maurice, Tamar’s gunnery officer.
“Getting to work with vessels of varying sizes and armaments meant we had to adapt our standard procedures to fit an ever-evolving exercise. Whilst it was hard work and tested my abilities it was a great learning experience.”
Next up: air defence, with the Dixmude and Suzutsuki charged with protecting Tamar from ‘enemy’ air attack before the three small task groups linked up for combined close manoeuvres.
“We started our five-year mission 18 months ago and although we’ve operated with naval units from every one of the countries represented here today, it’s great to work with them and feeling increasingly natural for us to be here and do so,” said Commander Teilo Elliot-Smith, Tamar’s Commanding Officer.
“Our presence in the Indo-Asia Pacific is about protecting Britain’s interests – and those of our allies and partners – and renewing the Royal Navy’s permanent presence in the region”
The commander of the Jeanne d’Arc 2023 mission, Captain Emmanuel Mocard, added: “The Laperouse exercise allows us to maintain a high level of seamless interaction between long-standing partner navies which share the same vision of maritime safety issues in the Indo-Pacific area. It contributes to the preservation of international stability based on the respect of maritime law and safety at sea.”
Tamar has now resumed her Indian Ocean patrol on the latest leg of her five-year deployment with her sister ship HMS Spey to reinvigorate the UK and Royal Navy’s presence in the Indo-Pacific region – a commitment reaffirmed this week in the Integrated Review Refresh.