HMS Northumberland completes intensive operations from Mediterranean to the Arctic Circle

Topic: Fighting armsSurface Fleet Storyline: HMS Northumberland

HMS Northumberland has completed four months at the sharp end of naval operations from the Mediterranean to the freezing temperatures of the Arctic Circle.

The Type 23 frigate sailed more than 20,000 miles, escorting supply ships across the Baltic with the Joint Expeditionary Force, protecting the integrity of UK waters as the Royal Navy’s very high readiness warship and working with NATO allies in the Arctic Circle.

After operating across the Atlantic, Mediterranean, North Sea, Norwegian Sea, Arctic, Baltic and Gulf of Finland, the warship returned home to Plymouth today.

Engineering Technician (Weapons Engineering) Aaron Jenner said: “This is my first time away in the Royal Navy. I’ve had a fantastic time and it’s been really good to experience life at sea and to learn more about what the ship can do beyond its primary role of ASW.” 

Commander Will Edwards-Bannon, the Ship’s Commanding Officer, added: “I couldn’t be more proud of the way my Ship’s Company responded to fast-changing events over the past four months.

“Time and again, they proved they were ready for anything and demonstrated an impressive – and typically Northumbrian – sense of resilience whenever our mission changed or the seas were particularly rough.

“They have been fantastic ambassadors for the UK while working alongside our NATO allies and JEF partners, with whom we have been proud to stand shoulder-to-shoulder during these difficult times.”

Northumberland departed in January for anti-submarine warfare tasking around UK waters and the North Atlantic.

She trained with an Astute-class submarine to test her sailors’ abilities to deal with underwater threats and after a short pit-stop in Faslane, became the Royal Navy’s Fleet Ready Escort – the warship working at very high readiness to respond to security threats around the UK and anything the British Government required.

Expecting to return to anti-submarine warfare operations, Northumberland was tasked to head to the Baltic Sea in support of the Joint Expeditionary Force (JEF): a UK-led task force which is held at high-readiness to respond to global events, including forces from the UK, Denmark, Finland, Estonia, Iceland, Latvia, Lithuania, the Netherlands, Sweden and Norway.

In this case, Northumberland helped escort a ferry carrying Danish military equipment through the Baltic en-route to Estonia, through simulated hostile waters and accompanied by the Danish frigate Niels Juel – relishing the opportunity to train alongside her Danish military counterparts.

Next up for the ship was Exercise Cold Response – NATO’s largest military exercise in the Arctic for 30 years. In support, Northumberland headed to Norway and joined the Standing NATO Maritime Group 1 (SNMG1) - returning to her primary role as an anti-submarine warfare platform in support to the aircraft carrier, HMS Prince of Wales.

Throughout this busy period, the crew had to endure heavy seas and cold weather, regularly sweeping snow and chipping ice off the decks. They were also treated to stunning displays of the Aurora Borealis and were able to conduct a spot of whale watching, including a pod of orcas.

The ship’s Meteorological Officer Lieutenant Olivia Floyd said: “We’ve had some significant wave heights during our time away and we really have seen all the seasons during the past four months. But when the weather did clear, the views in the fjords were magnificent.”

Apart from offering an opportunity to enjoy Norway’s scenery and wildlife, Exercise Cold Response tested the frigate’s ability to defend against air, surface and sub-surface threats as well as learn to fight as part of a task group.

After a brief visit to Narvik, almost 82 years to the day since the Royal Navy’s battles there in World War Two, Northumberland returned to escorting duties – this time accompanying the Italian aircraft carrier Giuseppe Garibaldi to the English Channel and once again capitalising upon opportunities for international training – culminating in a flying visit by Italian sailors and aircrew from the carrier.

After wishing following seas to the Giuseppe Garibaldi, Northumberland returned to the Baltic, re-joining warships in SNMG1 and participating in a busy programme of training and conducted security operations.

Towards the end of her time with NATO, she visited the Estonian capital Tallinn where her Ship’s Company took full advantage of the opportunity to enjoy a trip ashore.

During this four month deployment, Northumberland sailed more than 20,000 miles across the Atlantic, Mediterranean, North Sea, Norwegian Sea, Arctic, Baltic and Gulf of Finland.


I couldn’t be more proud of the way my Ship’s Company responded to fast-changing events over the past four months.

Commander Will Edwards-Bannon