Frigates gear up for Exercise Cold Response in Norway

Topic: Fighting armsSurface Fleet

Sister ships HMS Iron Duke and HMS Sutherland have berthed in Trondheim in Norway as they gear up for NATO’s biggest winter exercise.

They will jon another 18 warships – including Norwegian, Danish, French, Polish, Dutch, and Spanish – which are gathering in the northern port for Cold Response, a three-week test of the ability of 14 NATO and Allied nations to operate in the harshest climatic conditions.

From the middle of next week, the ships will be sailing around the fjords as the exercise gets under way.

Before then, the 400 sailors on the two British frigates taking part – HMS Sutherland from Plymouth, HMS Iron Duke from Portsmouth – have the chance to get accustomed to conditions in northern Norway.

HMS Iron Duke is opening her gangway to the general public this weekend, while Sutherland’s rugby team is taking on a select Trondheim side at their Il Trond ground at lunchtime on Saturday.

In addition, skiing has been laid on for Sutherland’s sailors in the mountains around Trondheim.

“For a lot of my ship’s company this is their first foreign trip away with the Royal Navy and they are really excited,” said Commander Trish Kohn, Commanding Officer of HMS Sutherland who is taking her ship into the first foreign port since the frigate underwent a major overhaul in her home base.

Engineering Technician Ashley Rippon, 21, from Peterborough is on his first foreign port visit with the Royal Navy. 

“I am really pleased to be visiting a country that I would never have visited if I wasn’t in the Royal Navy,” he said. “I’ve only ever been on holiday to hot countries before and am really looking forward to trying skiing.”

As for HMS Iron Duke, she arrived in Trondheim – which is as far north as the Faroe Islands and almost on the same latitude as Reykjavík – fresh from another workout for her NATO Maritime Group 1 force, Dynamic Guard. This took place 350 miles down the coast around Bergen, and tested the five-strong group’s ability to deal with threats in the air, on the surface and beneath the waves.

“Cold Response will see a step increase in tempo as we start working with land and air forces – this will be a real show of what NATO and its partners are capable of,” said Cdr Ben Aldous, HMS Iron Duke’s Commanding Officer.

“The ability to plan and co-ordinate forces on this scale demonstrates our ability to work with NATO and respond quickly to world events as required.

“Having worked and trained hard over the past 12 months my crew are ready for the challenge this exercise will bring.  Many of them were onboard during exercises in the Baltic last year, so for Iron Duke working in large multi-national exercises is nothing new and something we thrive upon.”

Cold Response, which begins on Wednesday and runs for just short of three weeks, involves around 15,000 Servicemen and women, with the Royal Navy’s input totalling more than 750 perosnnel. This comprises 200 apiece on the Type 23 frigates, and around 350 Royal Marines of 3 Commando Brigade.

Cold Response will see a step increase in tempo as we start working with land and air forces – this will be a real show of what NATO and its partners are capable of

Commander Ben Aldous, Commanding Officer HMS Iron Duke