Kent home after two busy months away

HMS Kent returned home to Portsmouth today after two months of anti-submarine training and exercises with NATO allies and other partner nations.

The Portsmouth-based Type 23 anti-submarine frigate has been involved in four separate exercises, operating from the Bay of Biscay to the Baltic Sea, clocking up almost 19,000 nautical miles since leaving the UK in April.

She visited three countries, operating with NATO allies and partner nations in four task groups and in company with HMS Queen Elizabeth, the first of the UK’s two new aircraft carriers, witnessing flying trials of the F-35B Lightning strike fighters.

Kent carried out stops in Gothenburg, Sweden, and Den Helder in the Netherlands for essential stores and fuel, followed by a visit to Reykjavik in Iceland where the ship’s company were able to enjoy some rest and a chance to step ashore to explore this diverse country.

This is my first deployment since joining up. I’ve really enjoyed being able visit other countries and Iceland was just amazing!

Engineering Technician Kieran Luke-Ansell

The focus for Kent’s spring and summer has been developing the entire ship’s skills as a submarine hunter, assisted throughout by a Merlin Mk2 helicopter from 814 Naval Air Squadron in Culdrose.

The helicopter flew 56 sorties, totalling 125 flying hours, carrying out anti-submarine operations, long-range surveillance of surface ships, airborne gunnery and intelligence collection.

“Operating from Kent over the past two months has given us a great opportunity to play cat and mouse against some of the finest hunter-killer submarines in the world,” said Merlin pilot Lieutenant Phil Fordham (30).

“At the same time we’ve proving the unparalleled capability of the ship and aircraft operating together to deliver an extremely potent anti-submarine warfare capability.”

For their last major engagement Kent was joined by sister frigate HMS Westminster, Trafalgar class attack submarine HMS Trenchant and an RAF P8 Poseidon maritime patrol aircraft on exercise Dynamic Mongoose. The two-week submarine hunt in the northern Atlantic involved five warships and five submarines (nuclear and diesel-electric) drawn from NATO navies.

As Kent returns to the UK, the crews’ thoughts are on family and friends, with the ship about to undertake a comprehensive maintenance and capability uplift period, affording the team some much needed opportunities for rest and recuperation at home.

Kent will recommence operations with HMS Queen Elizabeth’s Carrier Strike Group later in the year, with a focus on preparing to protect the task group, especially from submarines, worldwide, any time.