Royal Navy’s Type 23 frigate HMS Northumberland has welcomed her crew back following a major refit at the frigate refit complex in Devonport.
Justin Mills, ship project manager, handed over the Type 23 frigate to the new Commander Alexandra Pollard.
This is Pollard’s first command having previously served as the executive officer aboard HMS Richmond.
Now that the ship has been delivered to the crew by shipbuilder Babcock, it is set to undergo a series of sea trials and training evolutions before returning to operations.
The ceremonial handover included the raising of the White Ensign on board.
In addition to upgrades to her weapon systems, infrastructure and navigation equipment, HMS Northumberland received four new diesel generators and associated upgraded power distribution delivered by Rolls-Royce subsidiary MTU. The new generator equipment, being manufactured in Germany and Austria, is being installed at Her Majesty’s Naval Base Devonport during planned upkeep periods. All frigates are set to receive them by 2024.
The first firings of the new Sea Ceptor air defence system have been successfully conducted in a major milestone for the Royal Navy, Defence Minister Harriett Baldwin announced today.
The Minister visited defence company MBDA’s site in Filton, near Bristol, meeting with local graduates, apprentices and other employees working on the Sea Ceptor system.
The new air missile defence system can intercept and destroy enemy missiles travelling at supersonic speeds and will form part of the protection for the nation’s new aircraft carriers. The first firings were conducted from Type 23 frigate HMS Argyll whilst off the coast of Scotland.
Minister for Defence Procurement Harriett Baldwin said:
“Sea Ceptor will protect our interests against threats both known and unknown. It will launch from the Royal Navy’s new Type 26 frigates as they keep our nuclear deterrent submarines and the UK’s two new aircraft carriers safe on operations around the globe.
Sea Ceptor supports 600 UK jobs and is yet another example of how our rising defence budget is being spent on cutting-edge kit to help our Armed Forces meet future threats.”
Sea Ceptor, which uses MBDA’s next-generation Common Anti-air Modular Missile (CAMM), is being fitted to replace the Sea Wolf weapon system on the Type 23 frigates. The air defence system will also be used on the new Type 26 frigates and Land Ceptor, which will replace Rapier for the British Army.
Using innovations in radar and datalink technology that will guide these potent missiles with pinpoint accuracy, Sea Ceptor will provide the Royal Navy with an improved shield against airborne threats such as the new generation of supersonic anti-ship missiles, fast jets, helicopters and unmanned aerial vehicles.
Commander Toby Shaughnessy, the Commanding Officer of HMS Argyll, said:
“This is an exciting upgrade in capability and a great opportunity for HMS Argyll to demonstrate what the missile system can do to protect our ships from future threats.
Sea Ceptor is an impressive and innovative system, demonstrating that the Royal Navy is at the cutting edge of technology and working hard to keep Britain safe. I am immensely proud of my ship’s company and the work they put in to make this test firing possible.”
HMS Argyll will conduct further firing trials of the Sea Ceptor system before she deploys to Japan next year. Alongside providing robust self-defence, importantly Sea Ceptor defends escort vessels within a maritime task group, such as for the new Queen Elizabeth Class aircraft carriers.
The system uses a new UK-developed missile capable of reaching speeds of up to Mach 3 and will have the ability to deal with multiple targets simultaneously, protecting an area of around 500 square miles (1,300 square kilometres) over land or sea.
As part of MBDA’s CAMM programme, Sea Ceptor supports around 600 MBDA jobs and its supply chain in key locations across the UK such as Stevenage, Filton and Bolton.
Tony Douglas, Chief Executive Officer for the MOD’s procurement organisation Defence Equipment and Support, which is based at MOD Abbey Wood in Bristol, said:
“The firings are an important step forward in proving the significant improvements over previous air defence systems and further evidence of our commitment to provide the very best equipment to our armed forces.”
The Defence Minister also visited Airbus’ plant in Filton, near Bristol, which is the heart of the design and manufacture of some of the world’s most technologically advanced aircraft. The Minister met with some of Airbus’ 6000 local employees, including engineers working on research and technology for future aircraft projects.
Two aircraft carriers, one operational since 2009 and the other preparing for its commissioning ceremony, met off the coast of Scotland during the UK-hosted exercise Saxon Warrior.
HMS Queen Elizabeth met up with the USS George HW Bush and her carrier strike group during a series of war games which have seen the Commander of the UK Carrier Strike Group, Commodore Andrew Betton, and his team direct jets, firepower and personnel across the task group for the last ten days to ensure readiness for the UK’s own carrier strike capability.
The U.S. Navy’s aircraft carrier USS George HW Bush has more than 60 Royal Navy sailors and Royal Marines on board, who have been working with their US counterparts to hone carrier strike skills ahead of HMS Queen Elizabeth’s entry into service.
During a pause in the exercise’s high tempo activities, there was a chance for HMS Queen Elizabeth to join the carrier strike group for a brief period as she continues her own contractor sea trials ahead of her first entry into her new home port in Portsmouth, expected to be in just under two weeks.
Captain Jerry Kyd, HMS Queen Elizabeth’s Commanding Officer, said: “The USS George HW Bush battle group is an awesome embodiment of maritime power projection.
“And given that the United Kingdom’s Carrier Strike Group Commander and his staff are embedded on board the US carrier for Saxon Warrior shows the closeness of our relationship with the US Navy and the importance that both nations place on the delivery of the UK’s Carrier Strike programme.
“HMS Queen Elizabeth is at the start of her journey to generate to full warfighting capability, but we are working hard to ready ourselves to take our place in operations and the line of battle alongside our closest allies.”
As well as the USS George HW Bush, the group includes two Portsmouth-based Type 23 frigates, HMS Westminster and HMS Iron Duke, destroyer USS Donald Cook, missile cruiser USS Philippine Sea and the Norwegian frigate HNoMS Helge Ingstad.
Captain Ken Houlberg, Chief of Staff to the Commander of the UK Carrier Strike Group, said: “The US Navy, out of huge generosity, has given us the whole of their carrier strike group so that we can practise the command and control of a carrier doing these operations in British waters so that when HMS Queen Elizabeth comes into service later this year we will be well on the way to forming our own carrier strike capability.”
The exercise, which has been at play for nearly a week, has seen UK staff work with their American counterparts to fight off a series of simulated threats from enemy forces, using all the air, surface and sub-surface assets of the entire task group.
There are 15 ships from across NATO taking part in the exercise, called Exercise Saxon Warrior, with more than 100 aircraft and nearly 10,000 people.
The UK defense secretary Sir Michael Fallon announced on Monday that Britain’s new aircraft carrier HMS Queen Elizabeth is set to enter her new home in Portsmouth in around two weeks.
Weather conditions mean the exact date of the historic moment is yet to be confirmed, the window for entry will open next Thursday 17 August, with her arrival expected to be no later than the following Tuesday 22 August.
The war games, called Exercise Saxon Warrior, have seen the Commander of the UK Carrier Strike Group Commodore Andrew Betton and his team direct jets, firepower and personnel across the task group for the last ten days to ensure full readiness for the UK’s own carrier strike capability.
Strike Warfare Commander Colonel Phil Kelly Royal Marine said:
“We have been working with the US for a few weeks now and they are doing a really good job of helping us train in bringing our skill set up so that when we do bring in our aircraft carrier and join that up with our aircraft then we can do it in a much more effective manner because we have seen how the experts do it.”
As well as the USS George HW Bush, the group includes two Portsmouth based Type 23 frigates, HMS Westminster and HMS Iron Duke, destroyer USS Donald Cook, missile cruiser USS Philippine Sea and the Norwegian frigate HNoMS Helge Ingstad.
Captain Ken Houlberg, Chief of Staff to COMUKCSG said:
“The US Navy, out of huge generosity, given us the whole of their carrier strike group so that we can practise the command and control of a carrier doing these operations in British waters so that when HMS Queen Elizabeth comes into service later this year we will be well on the way to forming our own carrier strike capability.”
The exercise, which has been at play for nearly a week, has seen the COMUKTG staff work with their American counterparts to fight off a series of simulated threats from enemy forces, using all the air, surface and sub-surface assets of the entire task group.
The threats have been specifically designed to test the UK personnel’s reactions for coordinating a response.
There are 15 ships from across NATO taking part throughout the exercise with more than 100 aircraft and nearly 10,000 personnel.
U.S. Navy aircraft carrier USS George H.W. Bush and ships from its carrier strike group arrived in Portsmouth, UK, today ahead of a major two-week drill.
Accompanied by the USS Philippine Sea, USS Donald Cook and Norwegian ship HNoMS Helge Insgstad, the aircraft carrier is on the final leg of its deployment in support of operation Inherent Resolve, the fight against ISIS.
The Nimitz-class carrier has UK personnel on board as part of the UK-US Long Lead Specialist Skills Programme which qualifies them in US carrier operations in preparation for the arrival of HMS Queen Elizabeth and the UK’s own carrier strike capability.
Also embarked is Commander UK Carrier Strike Group Commodore Andrew Betton and his team for Exercise Saxon Warrior 17 – a joint maritime exercise that will focus how the two nations work together during a number of challenging scenarios around the UK coastline.
“Exercise Saxon Warrior is a large, multinational joint exercise which involves fifteen warships from five different nations, submarines, over 100 aircraft and about 9,000 personnel,” said Cdre Betton.
“The UK contribution will be two Type 23 frigates supporting the US aircraft carrier, a Royal Navy submarine, the Carrier Strike Group UK battle staff, fixed wing and rotary wing aircraft operating from ashore, and then the central training staff who will based in Faslane in Scotland.”
The exercise, which begins once the group leaves Portsmouth, will also be key to ensuring UK personnel are fully equipped ahead of the arrival of the Royal Navy’s new Queen Elizabeth-class aircraft carrier, HMS Queen Elizabeth.
Over the next fortnight U.S. Naval personnel will train side-by-side with UK pilots, engineers and deck handlers to build combined maritime and aviation capability and capacity.
The Type 23 frigates taking part in Ex Saxon Warrior will be Portsmouth-based HMS Iron Duke and HMS Westminster who will be joined by Royal Fleet Auxiliary fast fleet tanker Wave Ruler.
News: Two Royal Navy frigates have joined HMS Queen Elizabeth to secure the seas around the giant aircraft carrier as she embarks on her maiden sea trials.
HMS Sutherland and HMS Iron Duke are escorting the Royal Navy’s largest ever warship as she conducts vital system tests off the coast of Scotland today.
HMS Queen Elizabeth left Rosyth, where she has been under construction since 2014, on Monday with 700 sailors and 200 industry contractors on board.
Type 23 frigates Sutherland and Iron Duke have now joined the 65,000-tonne aircraft carrier, along with Merlin Mk2 helicopters of the Fleet Air Arm, to guard the seas as the trials get under way.
Commander Andrew Canale, the Commanding Officer of HMS Sutherland, said: “It is a huge honour for us all in HMS Sutherland to be the first ship to escort HMS Queen Elizabeth on her maiden sea voyage. This is a new chapter in the history of the Royal Navy in which our aircraft carriers will have the ability to project power globally for the next 50 years.
“Everyone in HMS Sutherland is proud to be involved in this historic occasion. For me and all my ship’s company, seeing her on the ocean waves for the first time is a sight we will never forget.”
The sea trials under way of the coast of Scotland are designed to test the carrier’s engines and propulsion systems, plus her ability to produce fresh water, cope with sewage, feed the crew, and supply those on board with electricity.
Lieutenant Dominic Rotherham, the flight observer of HMS Sutherland’s embarked Merlin Mk2 flight crew, said: “Today we were tasked with securing the seas around HMS Queen Elizabeth to make sure she is safe to conduct her sea trials. As an observer in the Fleet Air Arm, seeing her from the air for the first time brought home to me the scale of the future flagship and the power she will represent overseas.
“It is a privilege to fly from HMS Sutherland’s flight deck, but I’m also excited to one day operate from HMS Queen Elizabeth.”
The carrier’s departure from Rosyth on Monday is one highlight of a national effort which has involved more than 10,000 people across the land – not least six shipyards – clocking up 51,000,000 man hours.
There were just 35cm either side of the carrier’s gigantic hull as she squeezed through the lock at Rosyth, and a mere 50cm separated the keel from the lock bottom as 11 tugs assisted Queen Elizabeth into the Forth before she began her maiden voyage.
A Plymouth warship and Royal Navy helicopters are heading for cooler climes to hunt submarines lurking in the deep.
Earlier this year, the Merlin helicopter force proved they could hunt the enemy below in the warm waters of the Mediterranean.
Now Britain’s premier submarine hunters are striking out into the grey expanse of the Atlantic during the brilliantly named Exercise Dynamic Mongoose.
With the water temperature likely to be no more than 11˚C – about 5˚C colder than it was off Sicily back in March – the environment (such as temperature layers and salinity of the Atlantic) will play a key role in whether Sutherland’s and the Merlin’s sonar can locate submarines.
If they can, they’ll carry out mock attacks with Stingray torpedoes; a flare dropped into the water will signal a successful kill.
The frigate, tanker and Merlin are Britain’s input, taking their place alongside seven warships, half a dozen hunter-killer submarines, eight maritime patrol aircraft and four helicopters – 5,000 personnel in all, drawn from the host country plus the USA, Canada, Denmark, France, Germany, the Netherlands, Norway and Poland.
With over 50 hours of flying planned during the exercise, the crews will be looking to sharpen their deck landings in difficult sea-states before getting stuck-in to the business of hunting the submarines.
Flying from an auxiliary ship will be a little different for the Kingfishers of 829 NAS, who normally operate from the smaller Type 23 Frigates.
They are however, very acclimatised to working in the tempestuous seas of the North Atlantic.
As such, 829 NAS will be able to share their expertise with their colleagues; the ‘Tigers’ of 814 NAS who will be looking to recoup their maritime skills after a busy period supporting operations overseas over the last year, but mainly deployed ashore.
Lt Cdr Kev Murgatroyd, of 814 NAS and Detachment Commander for the exercise, said: “This is a great opportunity for us to put into practise our core role of hunting submarines in extremely challenging water conditions in an area of strategic value.”
“We relish the chance of working with our NATO partners and also combining our efforts between two squadrons.”