HMS Northumberland and RFA Fort Victoria train together

HMS Northumberland and RFA Fort Victoria have been working together as they both undertake crucial training.

The Royal Navy frigate and her embarked 815 Naval Air Squadron Wildcat have been carrying out a range of exercises with the Royal Fleet Auxiliary tanker.

Alongside RFA Tideforce and Dutch Navy ship HNLMS Rotterdam, Northumberland has been supporting Fort Vic’s return to the fleet following a refit last year.

Meanwhile, the work with Fort Vic gave Northumberland the chance to put the ship’s company and the Wildcat Viking Flight crew through their paces during her operational sea training.

During their time together, the ships carried out a replenishment at sea (RAS) and vertical replenishments – moving stores between the vessels by cable/tube or helicopter respectively. Both take skill and knowledge from all those involved and are crucial to keeping ships at sea for long periods.

Chief Officer Stuart Smith, RFA Fort Victoria’s executive officer, said: “HMS Northumberland played a key role in Fort Victoria’s success during her regeneration back to the fleet, being one of the first units to undertake a RAS with us following the ship’s extensive refit in 2019.

HMS Northumberland played a key role in Fort Victoria’s success during her regeneration back to the fleet

Chief Officer Stuart Smith, RFA Fort Victoria’s executive officer

“Having effectively been in abeyance, it was excellent to see Fort Vic’s solid stores capability burst into life once again, with the passing of general stores and drill munition loads to our consorts – a truly fantastic milestone in the ship’s regeneration.”

As part of her operational sea training, HMS Northumberland and her Viking Flight worked on anti-submarine warfare training, the frigate’s main purpose, hunting, tracking and engaging the “enemy submarines” with Stingray torpedoes.

Then, off the coast of Cardigan Bay in Wales, the ship spent a week conducting intensive gunnery exercises. Personnel from 148 Battery Royal Artillery, part of 3 Commando Brigade, went up in the Wildcat as part of Exercise Sharp Shooter, improving Northumberland’s accuracy of her 4.5in gun.

The following days also saw the ship’s 30mm automatic small calibre gun fired, with the ship’s company using an unmanned surface vessel as a target.

HMS Northumberland has now returned to Devonport while RFA Fort Victoria continues with her training.