Royal Navy joins the US and French in Oman’s biggest naval exercise

Topic: Operational activityTraining Storyline: Surface Fleet

The dagger was unsheathed once again in the Middle East as Royal Navy warships joined Omani hosts for their largest naval exercise.

Khunjar Hadd – which translates as Sharp Dagger – is a regular fixture on the Middle East naval calendar. The 2022 version of the exercise, planned and led by the Royal Navy of Oman, was the 27th iteration.

Given their permanent presence in the region, the navies of Britain and the USA are frequent participants in Khunjar Hadd, joined this year by France’s Marine Nationale to add to the international flavour of the week-long workout.

The exercise offered the chance to practise a wide variety of skills whilst improving the already high levels of smooth cooperation between the four navies.

Sharp Dagger began with a co-ordinated sail and a series of officer of the watch manoeuvres, designed to make the various participants feel comfortable in working in close proximity.

Representing the RN were: frigate HMS Montrose, minehunters HMS Chiddingfold and Penzance and their command ship RFA Lyme Bay (with the Commander UK Mine Counter Measure Force staff embarked).

After a group shot of all the ships involved, the forces split into two task groups for the ‘business end’ of Khunjar Hadd, depending on the vessels’ specific roles.

So, the minehunting force – a mix of experience, variety and future tech including the two British hunters, two American counterparts, an Omani survey ship as well as a joint Omani-US team of divers team and autonomous US minehunting units operating from RFA Lyme Bay – broke away for clearance drills, searching for drill mine shapes which had been laid for them to detect and dispose of.

Coordinating such a “hybrid blend” of mid-21st-Century minehunting systems has now become “routine business” for Commander Daniel Morris and his staff on Lyme Bay.

“The exercise offered the opportunity to command and operate conventional crewed surface mine counter-measures systems with un-crewed autonomous systems, all in the same water space,” he said.

Meanwhile, HMS Montrose participated in air defence exercises, with fast jets launched from Oman acting as the opposition, and live-firing gunnery drills.

All ships involved in Khunjar Hadd then reconvened for the final act: an air defence exercise where the frigates and corvettes were charged with protecting the minehunters from fast jet attacks.

“Exercise Khunjar Hadd afforded HMS Montrose the opportunity to train and refine fighting tactics in a multi-threat environment whilst reinforcing partnerships and friendships with Oman, France and the United States of America,” said the frigate’s gunnery officer, Lieutenant Commander Ian McClelland.

“The exercise provided by the Royal Navy of Oman was well executed and was of great benefit to the crew whilst also being thoroughly enjoyable.”

Also impressed by Khunjar Hadd was Britain’s First Sea Lord Admiral Sir Ben Key, who joined Omani corvette RNOV Al-Shamikh for the second day of the exercise.

“During my time in the Sultanate of Oman I was delighted to be able to see Exercise Khunjar Hadd, combining Omani, British, French and American maritime forces, demonstrating our shared commitment to safety and security in the Gulf.

“These invaluable exercises build trust, understanding and comradeship between our Services as we ensure the use of the global commons for all seafarers.”


The exercise offered the opportunity to command and operate conventional crewed surface mine counter-measures systems with un-crewed autonomous systems, all in the same water space.

Commander Daniel Morris