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Published: 12 Oct 2019

THE Royal Navy’s anti-submarine experts working with HMS Queen Elizabeth have been pitting their wits against an American submarine in the North Atlantic.

HMS Northumberland and the specialist Merlin Mk2 of 820 Naval Air Squadron have gained invaluable information on tactics and skills required to protect an aircraft carrier from the threat beneath the waves while working with an allied US sub. 

Type 23 frigate Northumberland used her specialist sonars, including the powerful towed array sonar, to hunt the submarine at range, keeping tabs on the sub before ‘destroying’ the target in training exercises.

Joining in the chase was the RNAS Culdrose-based Merlin Mk2, the aerial submarine hunting experts on Queen Elizabeth. The navy fliers utilised sonobuoys to cover a large area of ocean to prevent the submarine getting a clean shot at any of the UK Carrier Strike Group ships. 

“As a submariner, it has been a fantastic opportunity to see life and fight from the other side,” Principal Warfare Officer, Lieutenant Commander Kris White, said.

“The challenging environment has been a hurdle the team and I have had to overcome and adapt to but it has been a hugely valuable exercise period, allowing me to utilise my submariner experience, helping to forge the tactics we will require for the Carrier Strike Group in 2021.”

Sonar Maintainer, Petty Officer Douglas Owen, added: “It has been a challenging period but one that I have relished. 

“Being the Sonar Maintainer on an anti-submarine warfare frigate always attracts significant pressure, especially during a period of intensive training with a live submarine. It has been great to see the kit in action”.

The anti-submarine task group carried out a number of exercises, which varied in complexity and range to really test the UK ships.

Following the training, Northumberland, the Merlin Mk2 and RFA Tideforce joined up with the sub briefly before continuing their work on the Westlant 19 deployment. 


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