Sutherland goes on Arctic submarine hunt

HMS Sutherland is shielding the multinational force on Exercise Cold Response 2020 from threats beneath the icy waves of the Arctic Circle.

The Type 23 Frigate is the lead anti-submarine warship on the Norwegian-led winter exercise, which involves 15,000 troops from ten nations, including 2,000 from the UK.

While Royal Marines raid inland via fast raiding craft and helicopters of Commando Helicopter Force, Devonport-based Sutherland is ready to pounce to protect the amphibious forces from subsurface attacks.

The ‘Fighting Clan’ remains on call to respond to events and incidents around the UK, but has headed to the high north for a demanding programme of air defence, gunnery and joint anti-submarine exercises.

Sutherland most recently worked alongside the Royal Norwegian Navy’s frigate HNoMS Thor Heyerdahl and completed a successful mission to locate and deter submarines in a Norwegian fjord.

Anti-submarine warfare in the freeze of the north poses many challenges in itself – the temperature of the sea (as well as salinity and various temperature layers) play a key role in how effective sonar is – making this essential training for the Cold Response hunters.

“Operating in the Norwegian fjords going up against a well-trained and worked-up Norwegian submarine who is operating in her own backyard has given us a fresh challenge and allowed us an opportunity to test our thought processes to make sure we’re up to the task,” Principle Warfare Officer (Underwater), Lieutenant Commander James Mitchell said.

“Our recent exercises have included operations with Norwegian frigates and a number of units from the Norwegian Corvette and Mine Countermeasure Squadrons. 

 

Operating in the Norwegian fjords going up against a well-trained and worked-up Norwegian submarine who is operating in her own backyard has given us a fresh challenge and allowed us an opportunity to test our thought processes to make sure we’re up to the task

Lieutenant Commander James Mitchell

“Over the coming weeks we will continue to increase the complexity of our training as we integrate helicopters and maritime patrol aircraft as we seek to protect the amphibious forces from submarine attack. 

“The exercise may have only just started but there is still a significant amount of ‘hunting’ to be done, we may have won round one but the submarine will be looking to bounce back as she re-enters the Anti-Submarine Warfare ring and Sutherland’s team will be waiting for her.”

Following a port stop in Stavanger in south-western Norway alongside flagship HMS Albion and HMS Echo, Sutherland sailed north into the Arctic Circle. 

During that transit, the ship’s company went to action stations and were placed at a heightened state of readiness. 

Sutherland then welcomed Commanding Officer and Operations Officer of the Thor Heyerdahl for planning and joint working discussions on board before stepping off into their programme of anti-submarine warfare training.

The warship also tested a number of weapons, including the 30mm Automated Small Calibre Gun and machine guns. 

Sutherland are now preparing for testing boarding exercises in the next phases of Cold Response, while remaining on standby to be called upon to conduct escort duties, counter-terrorism operations or actions to prevent people trafficking.