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HMS Northumberland joins NATO allies on North Atlantic sub hunt

HMS Northumberland and NATO allies have tested their ability to deal with threats to security in the North Atlantic on the largest Canadian-lead naval war games for decades.

The Devonport-based Type 23 frigate is bringing the Royal Navy’s cutting-edge submarine hunting skills to the task group of 20 ships and 36 aircraft in the waters east of North America.

The multinational force – which has been operating in the seas off Nova Scotia – are proving their worth in air defence, defence against attacks from enemy navies, air-to-air combat and, Northumberland’s specialism, countering submarines. 

Cutlass Fury is about strengthening NATO ties – Canada, Belgium, Denmark, Netherlands, Norway, Portugal, USA and the UK are all involved as well as NATO’s Standing Naval Maritime Group 1 – and getting Northumberland up to speed ahead of joining HMS Queen Elizabeth on her Westlant deployment.

After sheltering alongside in Halifax as Hurricane Dorian swept north, Northumberland headed out in the North Atlantic to go hunting and protect the Cutlass Fury task group from threats lurking beneath the waves.

The warship – kitted out with towed array sonar to track submarines at range – located subs, planned attacks and charged targets, manoeuvring hard to ensure success using her torpedoes, depth charges and her Merlin MK2 helicopter. 

“There is nowhere to hide really from a warship like Northumberland. We will find that submarine,” said Northumberland’s Weapons Engineering Officer, Lieutenant Commander Markus Adcock.

There is nowhere to hide really from a warship like Northumberland. We will find that submarine

Lieutenant Commander Markus Adcock

“It has been hugely exciting learning to operate and fight within this task group. There has been no greater challenge in my career so far and it is a privilege to be updating the rule book as Northumberland partakes in Cutlass Fury and operates as part of the Carrier Strike Group.”

Cutlass Fury has offered the chance to strengthen bonds with the Canadians and for Northumberland and the Royal Navy to showcase their Anti-Submarine Warfare capabilities.

The exercise is also getting Northumberland geared up for activities with HMS Queen Elizabeth on Westlant 19.

The aircraft carrier will soon be testing the UK’s F-35B Lightning jets for the first time and will be supported by Northumberland, Type-45 destroyer HMS Dragon and RFA Tideforce as part of a Carrier Strike Group.

“HMS Northumberland’s anti-submarine warfare capability will enhance the task group’s ability to project maritime power – and it’s a clear demonstration of the role that Devonport-based Type 23 frigates will have in supporting carrier operations,” said Commanding Officer, Commander Alexandra Pollard.

“I have some very junior sailors, and this will be their first time away, as well as many seasoned hands on board. It’s an exciting time and it’s what we joined the Royal Navy to do.”

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