HMS Northumberland trains with American task group

HMS Northumberland has tested her ability to safeguard merchant shipping during exercises with an American taskforce on her deployment off the east coast of the USA.

The Devonport-based Type 23 frigate was involved in training which culminated in a simulated transit of The Beryl Strait – a fictitious chokepoint akin to the Strait of Hormuz, the Bab-el-Mandeb Strait or Strait of Gibraltar.

During the exercise, the destroyer USS Winston S Churchill acted as a harassing enemy force and was intercepted by Northumberland with a daring manoeuvre, ordered by Executive Officer Lieutenant Commander Jeremy Brettell, in order to protect a merchant vessel in distress.

This was at the end of exercises with the 4th Amphibious Strike group, during which the frigate simulated the use of her cutting-edge Sea Ceptor missile system and deployed her Variable Depth Sonar in training countering threats above and beneath the waves. 

This is the first time Northumberland has operated alongside a US Navy Amphibious Task Group. The ship’s company have been at a high state of readiness, working hard in defence watches in order to ensure we are ready to respond to various above and below water threats.

Lieutenant Commander Markus Adcock

“This is the first time Northumberland has operated alongside a US Navy Amphibious Task Group,” said Lieutenant Commander Markus Adcock, the Weapons Engineering Officer on board.

“The ship’s company have been at a high state of readiness, working hard in defence watches in order to ensure we are ready to respond to various above and below water threats.

“Northumberland simulated using her cutting-edge Sea Ceptor missile system and has deployed Variable Depth Sonar capability to tackle such threats, demonstrating the flexibility offered by a Type 23 Frigate in a multi threat environment.”

Seamlessly integrating with the US Navy Strike Group the Royal Navy warship, currently operating off the eastern seaboard of the United States, embarked a specialist United States Navy liaison officer to ensure that all the exercises were conducted safely. 

Head of the Amphibious Task Group was the USS Bataan, a 41,000 ton Wasp Class Amphibious Assault Ship, named after the World War Two battle fought in the Philippines against Japan. 

She can carry a mixture of aircraft including F35B Lightnings and MV22 Ospreys as well as a number of landing craft and hovercraft. 

The ship also has the capability to deploy more than 1,600 Marines ashore if needed. The USS New York and USS Oak Hill also formed part of the impressive US Strike Group.

Northumberland has now re-joined the HMS Queen Elizabeth Strike Group, protecting the Carrier Strike Group from sub-surface threats, developing tactics and procedures to operate within the strike group context whilst conducting active and passive anti-submarine warfare operations. 

As the deployment continues these operations will gradually escalate in complexity, utilising the ship’s Variable Depth Sonar and embarked Merlin Helicopter from 814 Naval Air Squadron.