Exercise Joint Warrior 16:2
Twice a year the UK hosts Exercise Joint Warrior which is designed to enable the armed forces of participating countries to practice procedures and operate as a multi-national coalition. The event incorporates a wide variety of training scenarios, and can include small boat attacks, boarding operations, large-scale amphibious assaults, air defence and anti-submarine warfare. The second of this year`s Joint Warrior military exercises, Exercise Joint Warrior 162, took place between 8 and 21 October. Delivered by the Joint Tactical Exercise Planning Staff (JTEPS) from Faslane, it comprised a programme of exercises conducted across the UK by land forces, warships, submarines and aircraft from 15 Nations. Live firing and aircraft delivering live ordnance will likely have taken place at Garvie Island off Cape Wrath with additional gunnery in some open ocean areas.
Most of the action took place around the north and north west Scotland. For the first time, Exercise Unmanned Warrior 2016 ran simultaneously, which saw unmanned air, surface and sub-surface vehicles operating within the Northern Minch and coastal waters around the Hebrides and the Small Isles. Over 50 unmanned vehicles, sensors and systems from more than 40 suppliers - either major international companies, smaller bespoke contractors, or academic institutions and research facilities, were demonstrated and tested in a realistic environment. There were also preliminary trials of the British Army’s ISTAR equipped UAV (Unmanned Aerial Vehicle) Watchkeeper which was launched from West Wales prior to proceedings to monitor some of the participating vessels as they headed north towards Scotland.
In years gone by most of the aircraft involved in Joint Warrior operated from RAF Lossiemouth, Kinloss and Leuchars but following the closure of Kinloss and Leuchars passing to the Army, Prestwick Airport has been adopted as a temporary base for Royal Navy Hawk T.1s of 763 Naval Air Squadron (NAS) and Dassault Falcons of Cobham Aviation Services. Although the Cobham jets are civilian, they work closely with the MOD and play a major role in proceedings. They`re equipped with onboard systems and specialised electronic warfare mission pods for radar and communications jamming, threat simulation and electronic surveillance. The Falcons also act as hostile airborne targets for the warships by running in at low-level to simulate a sea skimming missile, or 'launch' simulated missiles electronically which the navy can track and respond to with their defensive systems.
With regard to supply / support ships, regular attender USNS Leroy Grumman (T-AO-195), a Henry J. Kaiser-class Oiler, made the usual pre-exercise stop at the MOD facility on Loch Striven while Spain`s Oiler SPS Cantabria (A-15) and the German Navy Replenishment tanker Rhoen (Rhön) (A1443) berthed at Hunterston south of Largs. Rather than join the fleet when the exercise got underway, Rhön remained alongside the Clydeport terminal until the 16th, possibly due to a technical issue.The DSTL (Defence Scientific and Technology Laboratory) civilian chartered vessel Northern River went directly to the exercise area to act as the launch platform for a dozen unmanned systems with much of this activity having taken place in and round Kyle of Lochalsh. Robots attempted to find a dummy mine field in direct competition with several RN minehunters - a test of new systems against old. The Mine Hunters already use remotely piloted submarines in their work, but Unmanned Warrior hopefully showed how things can be taken a stage further.
The Roseneth Naval Base Memorial and FGS Elbe.
Royal Navy Vessels
HMS Tyne (P281) (above) was one of the first vessels to leave Faslane on Sunday 9 October whilst her sister ship HMS Severn (P282) (below) remained at the base. Along with HMS Mersey (P283), the River-class Offshore Patrol Vessels (OPVs) form part of the Fishery Protection Squadron. They patrol the English, Welsh and Northern Irish waters to ensure fishing vessels comply with the strict legislation in place to protect fish stocks. Royal Navy Officers are authorised to act as British Sea Fisheries Officers (BSFO), to conduct inspections of all British and foreign registered fishing vessels operating within the designated waters and to inspect British-registered fishing vessels in international waters. (The waters around Scotland are covered by the four vessels and two aircraft of the Scottish Fisheries Protection Agency). Where the Royal Navy detects an infringement it can be dealt with in a number of ways. Some minor lapses can be dealt with by giving verbal advice to captain and crew and at the other end of the scale serious offences can result in a fishing vessel being detained.
HMS Astute (below) was present at Faslane on Sunday 9 October as was HMS Ambush, the latter undergoing extensive repairs after colliding with a tanker in the waters off Gibraltar earlier this year.
Below: HMS Somerset (F82) is seen here making her way up the River Clyde to the city docks on Friday 23 September for an extended weekend visit prior to the exercise. Somerset is the 11th of the sixteen Duke-class (Type 23) frigates to be built. Launched in 1994 at the world famous Yarrow shipyard (now BAE) at Scotstoun, she entered service in 1996. Her home port is Devonport in Plymouth. Greenock-based Tugs Bruiser and CMS Warrior escorted her upriver.
Below: HMS Monmouth (F235) is another of the Royal Navy`s Duke-class Frigates. Known as the 'Black Duke', Monmouth is the seventh ship to bear the name and was launched at Yarrow`s in 1991, being commissioned two years later. She is unique in the Royal Navy as in reference to the heritage of the name “The Black Duke” the frigate flies a black flag and has black, rather than the traditional red, name plates.
Meanwhile, at BAE Systems` Scotstoun yard on the Upper Clyde, work continues on what is destined to become the latest addition to the Royal Navy fleet, HMS Forth the first of three new OPVs.
The 90 metre-long vessel is based on a proven BAE Systems type which is already in service with the Brazilian Navy and Royal Thai Navy. BAE engineers have modified the design, ensuring it meets the requirements of the Royal Navy. The patrol ships will provide accommodation for 60 personnel, including a crew of 34.
The flight deck at the aft has been upgraded to operate the latest Merlin helicopters and the three new vessels will be equipped with two Pacific 24 rigid inflatable boats (RIBs). With a range of 5,000 nautical miles and a maximum speed of 24 knots, HMS Forth is expected to be delivered to the Royal Navy in 2017.
I`ve yet to make it to Lossiemouth during a Joint Warrior exercise, so here are a few shots of the `Usual Suspects` at Prestwick. Participating on this occasion were Royal Navy Hawks XX240, XX250, XX261, XX217 and XX205, plus Cobham Aviation Dassault Falcon DA20s G-FRAD, G-FRAH, G-FRAL, G-FRAO, G-FRAS and G-FRAU, along with Falcon DA42 G-FFMV.
Above: This was the scene at Prestwick on Wednesday 19 October, just two days before the exercise was due to end. There wasn`t any activity when I made a brief stop around lunchtime. The only other military visitor present, which I assume had no connection with the exercise, was Canadian Armed Forces Boeing CC-177 Globemaster III serial number 177702. It departed in the early evening only to return soon after having suffered a bird-strike.
Belgian Navy (Marine Component of the Belgian Armed Forces)
Pictured here passing Dumbuck Quarry on Thursday 6 October is BNS Leopold I, one of two Karel Doorman-class frigates purchased from the Royal Netherlands Navy at the tail end of 2005. Prior to 29 March 2007, when the Belgians formally acquired the vessels, Leopold I had been known as HNLMS Karel Doorman (F827). She had been named in honour of Dutch Rear-Admiral Karel Doorman, the Allied Strike Force commander who lost his life during the Battle of the Java Sea, a decisive naval battle of the Pacific campaign during World War II. The Allied navies suffered a disastrous defeat at the hands of the Imperial Japanese Navy and Japan went on to occupy the entire Netherlands East Indies.
The Karel Doorman-class frigates have a displacement of 2,800 tonnes and are just over 122 metres in length. They have a top speed of 30 knots (56 mph) and usually operate with a compliment of 15 officers, 70 NCOs and 60 sailors. Their main armament is an Oto Melara 76mm deck gun supplemented by up to 10 machine guns with a Goalkeeper CIWS for close-in defence. Other weapons systems comprise 16 x VLS firing RIM-7 Sea Sparrow Anti-air Missile, 8 x Launcher firing Boeing Harpoon Anti-Ship missile and 2 x Twin torpedo tubes firing Mk.46 Torpedoes.
It`s reassuring to know that all of Leopold I`s crew are keeping a sharp lookout!
BNS Narcis (M923) is a Tripartite-class minehunter which is also in service with the navies of France and the Netherlands, as well as Pakistan, Indonesia, Latvia, and Bulgaria. The type was conceived in the 1970s and built in the 1980s, a joint venture by France which built the mine-hunting equipment, Belgium which provided the electronics, and the Netherlands which constructed the propulsion train. France and the Netherlands originally bought 15, with Belgium buying 10. All three countries' Tripartite ships contribute at times to NATO's Standing Maritime MCM capability groups (SNMCMG1 or SNMCMG2).
Royal Canadian Navy
HMCS Charlottetown (FFH-339) is one of twelve Halifax-class Frigates currently in service with the Royal Canadian Navy. All ships of the class are named after major Canadian cities with at least one name allocated from each province. Charlottetown is a product of Saint John Shipbuilding Ltd, Saint John, New Brunswick. She was launched on 1 October 1994 and officially commissioned into the Canadian Forces on 9 September 1995. She is currently assigned to Maritime Forces Atlantic (MARLANT) and is homeported at CFB Halifax, Nova Scotia.
On Thursday 6 October, a couple of hundred geese roosting on Newshot Island close to the riverbank weren`t too chuffed when the naval vessels appeared. This batch overflying HMCS Charlottetown were appropriately Canadian Geese but there were also numerous Greylags. The birds would have been even more nervous had they been aware of the potential firepower that could be brought to bear, should the crew fancy one or two for the pot! The 20mm Vulcan Phalanx CIWS would have proven particularly effective!
The shot below was was taken on Saturday 7 October at the KGV Dock. Tucked away in HMCS Charlottetown`s hangar was a Sikorsky CH-124 Sea King, believed to be Serial Number 12404, which made a brief visit to Glasgow International Airport during the morning of Wednesday 5 October. The frigate had been making its way up the Firth of the Clyde at the time.
Royal Danish Navy
HDMS Absalon (L16) is currently the Danish Navy`s Flagship. She and her sister ship HDMS Esbern Snare (L17) are the largest vessels operated by the Danish Navy to date and are designated Flexible Support Ships. They can perform a wide variety of roles and are primarily designed for command and support, often working in conjunction with the Danish Navy`s three Iver Huitfeldt-class guided-missile frigates. The Iver Huitfeldt-class use the basic Absalon hull design, therefore Denmark has been able to construct these vessels at a far lower cost than most comparable warships. The three new frigates perform an air defence role with Standard Missiles and have the potential to use Tomahawk cruise missiles, a first for the Danish Navy.
Sandown-class minehunters HMS Grimsby (M108) and (only partially visible closest to the dock) EML Sakala (M314) of the Estonian Navy berthed at Faslane on Sunday 9 October. The Estonian warship, ex-HMS Inverness (M102) had been scheduled to head for the exercise area that morning along with the rest of the MCMVs but, as she did in April this year, suffered a technical problem which delayed her departure.
FNS Uusimma (05) made her way up to the KGV early on the morning of Friday 7 October, reaching Erskine just as the sky started to lighten. This vessel is one of a pair of Hämeenmaa-class minelayers currently in service with the Finnish Navy which can operate year-round in ice-bound Arctic waters. The ships have a steel hull and alloy superstructure and their design incorporates a degree of stealth technology, a first for the Finnish Navy. Uusimma, the newest of the pair, was launched in June 1992 and commissioned before the end of that year. Both vessels have since undergone extensive modernisation and now, if required the vessels can also act as escort, Anti-Submarine Warfare (ASW) platforms, or transport and depot ships. Based at Pansio in the city of Turku, a strategic location in southwest Finland with easy access to the Gulf of Bothnia, the Gulf of Finland and the Baltic Sea, Uusimma and her sister-ship FNS Hämeenmaa (02) are ideal vessels for monitoring the comings and goings of Russia's Baltic fleet.
FS Tonnerre (L9014) is an Amphibious Assault Helicopter Carrier of the Marine Nationale. She is the eighth vessel to bear the name which means Thunder in French and the second ship in the 21,300t Mistral-class amphibious assault ship series. Tonnerre was laid down in two parts. The aft section at Brest and the bow part at Saint-Nazaire. The vessel was launched on 26 July 2005 and began active service in the December of the following year. Each ship has the payload capacity and versatility to carry up to 16 heavy helicopters and one-third of a mechanised regiment, plus two LCAC hovercraft or up to four landing craft. The 5,000m² flight deck can accommodate up to six helicopter movements simultaneously, with types such as the NH90, SA 330 Puma, AS 532 U2 Cougar or AS 665 Tiger. The ships usually operate with a crew of 160 with 20 officers and can carry sufficient stores for the crew and 450 troops for 45 days between replenishments.
The vessels have maximum speed of 19kt and a range (at 14kts) of 11,000nm. The 69-bed, 750m² hospital is equipped with two operating theatres. If additional hospital or Medevac space is required, the hangar can also be converted into a modular field hospital.
The vessels are armed with air defence missile launchers, Breda Mauser 30mm naval guns and four 12.7mm machine guns.
It was overcast when I took these shots of Tonnerre, a contrast to the last time she visited Greenock back in October 2008 to celebrate the QE2`s last visit to the Clyde. The weather was superb and I also managed to get the Ark Royal in the frame - that was back when the Royal Navy still had an operational aircraft carrier!
FS Primauguet (D644) is one of six Type 170 anti-submarine frigates in service with the French Marine Nationale and was commissioned on 5 November 1986. She is named after the 15th century Captain Hervé de Portzmoguer. Known as "Primauguet", he was a Breton naval commander renowned for his raids on the English. As the French do not class any of their vessels as destroyers, Primauguet and her sister ships have a `D` prefix to their fleet numbers rather than the letter`F`.
I managed to catch the French vessel as she passed Newshot Island at Erskine on her way upriver to Glasgow on Thursday 6 October. A helicopter, which I believe is a Lynx, was stowed in the hangar.
FGS Ludwigshafen am Rhein (F264) is a K130 Braunschweig-class ocean-going corvette. Five of these new vessels supplement the Gepard-class fast attack craft that are currently in service with the German Navy. The K130 corvettes are designed with stealth features, low draft, and highly automated weapons and defence systems. They have a continuous maximum speed of over 26kt and a cruising range of more than 2,500nm, giving them an endurance of seven days or, with tender support, 21 days. Ludwigshafen am Rhein was the last of the five K130s to enter service, having been commissioned on 21 March 2013.
This is U-32 (S182), the second Type 212A submarine built for the German Navy. She was built by the German Submarine Consortium at the shipyards of Thyssen Nordseewerke of Emden and HDW at Kiel. Along with sister vessel U-31, the sub was commissioned on October 19, 2005. U-32 is powered by one diesel engine and an electric motor driven by two fuel cells and features a cavitation-free screw, making it virtually undetectable. U-32 was the first non-nuclear submarine to stay submerged for two weeks and in March 2013, U-32 crossed the Atlantic Ocean en route to the USA remaining submerged for 18 days, the longest period for any German submarine to date.
The German Navy`s replenishment ship FGS Elbe (A511) is the lead ship of six Elbe-class or Type 404s tenders built to support the Deutsche Marine`s squadrons of Fast Attack Craft, subs and Mine Countermeasures Vessels (MCMVs). She is pictured above passing Roseneath on Sunday 9 October. These ships carry fuel, fresh water, food, ammunition and other materiel. They also have a medical station aboard but doctors are not part of their standard complement and would have to be flown in if required. The Elbe-class tenders also manage waste disposal for the ships they support at sea. The containers on Elbe`s deck contain the necessary tools, spares, and other equipment to enable engineers to carry out minor repairs to assigned vessels.
LVS Imanta (M04) was the first of five Alkmaar-class minehunters purchased by the Latvian National Armed Forces (NAF) Naval Forces (NF) having been acquired in 2005. The vessel was formerly Tripartite-class HNLMS Harlingen (M854), a type designated Alkmaar-class by the Dutch. In accordance with naval tradition, the name of the vessel class in Latvia is derived from the name of its first ship; therefore all Latvian vessels belonging to this class are called Imanta-class vessels. Belgian Tripartite-class vessel BNS Narcis (M923) is pictured below left.
Part of the Standing NATO Mine Countermeasures Group One (SNMCMG1), LNS Skalvis (M53) (ex-HMS Dulverton) is one of two former Royal Navy Hunt-class minehunters in service with the Lithuanian Navy. They were officially handed over in 2013 following an extensive Thales UK-led refurbishment and reactivation programme. The 750 ton Hunt-class ships have a beam of 10.5m, draught of 2.2m and provide a very low magnetic signature for mine countermeasure operations. Capable of accommodating a crew of 45 with five officers, the vessels feature Thales Sonar 2193 hull-mounted wide band sonar to support both minesweeping and minehunting as well as patrol missions.
SNMCMG1 is currently under the command of Commander Johan-Elias Seljama of the Estonian Navy while the German Navy tender Elbe (A511) will serve as flagship of the group which is currently comprised of eight individual ships from Belgium, Estonia, Germany, Latvia, Lithuania, the Netherlands, Norway and the United Kingdom.
Royal Norwegian Navy
Ula-class Norwegian sub HNoMS Utsira (S301) set off from HMNB Clyde early on Sunday 9 October for the exercise area. Six of these diesel electric submarines for the Royal Norwegian Navy (RNoN) were constructed between 1989 and 1992, the result of a joint Norwegian and German project with the hull sections being built in Norway and taken to Germany for assembly. The Ula-class vessels are among the most silent and manoeuvrable submarines in the world. This, in combination with their relatively small size, makes it very difficult for surface vessels to detect them and they are therefore ideal for operations in coastal areas. The boats are all named after places in Norway, with the exception of Uredd ("Unafraid" in English), in honour of the World War II submarine HNoMS Uredd (P-41).
Royal Norwegian Navy (RNoN) warship HNoMS Måløy (M342), also known as Maaloey, is one of four Oksøy-class Mine Hunters that have been in service with the Royal Norwegian Navy`s 1st Mine Clearing Squadron since the mid-1990s. Vessels from this unit are regular Joint Warior attendees.
NRP Alvares Cabral (F331) is one of three Vasco da Gama-class frigates in service with the Portuguese Navy. These vessels, the primary surface ships in the Portuguese fleet, were built in Hamburg by Blohm + Voss (B&V) and by Howaldtswerke-Deutsche Werft (HDW) in Kiel. Their design is based on the German MEKO 200 frigate with similar ships having been built for the navies of Greece, Turkey, Australia and New Zealand.
Almirante Juan de Borbón (F102) is the second ship of the F-100 class of air defence frigates, entering service with the Spanish Navy in 2003. The warship is named after Infante Juan de Borbón, Count of Barcelona, father of the former King of Spain, Juan Carlos I.
Five of these warships are currently in service, all of which are equipped with the Aegis combat system which utilises powerful computer and radar technology to track and guide weapons to destroy multiple enemy targets. She normally operates with a crew of 250 including 48 officers.
SPS Victoria (F82) is the second of six Spanish-built Santa Maria-class frigates which are based on the American Oliver Hazard Perry-class design. Laid down on 16 August 1983, and launched on 23 July 1986, Victoria was commissioned on 11 November 1987.
USS Porter (DDG-78), a frequent Joint Warrior participant, is an Arleigh Burke-class destroyer and the fifth U.S. Navy ship to be named after U.S. Navy officers Commodore David Porter, and his son Admiral David Dixon Porter. The Porters served the Union with distinction and both saw a significant amount of action during the American Civil War. Porter Senior commanded a number of U.S. naval ships, including the famous USS Constitution, however he was later court-martialled and resigned, only to become the commander-in-chief of the Mexican Navy. After the Civil War ended, his son worked to raise the standards of the U.S. Navy in the position of Superintendent of the Naval Academy when it was restored to Annapolis and initiated reforms to increase professionalism.
In March this year, the destroyer was the first US Navy ship to test the new SeaRAM missile defence system, urgently developed by weapons manufacturer Raytheon to counter “ a new Russian threat,” according to the US Naval Institute. The SeaRAM launchers replaced Porter`s Phalanx point-defence mounts.
USNS Leroy Grumman (T-AO-195) sailed to the Tail o` the Bank off Greenock and dropped anchor on Thursday 20 October, enabling some shots from the Esplanade before she returned to the USA. The Henry J. Kaiser-class Oiler is named in honour of Leroy Randel Grumman (1895-1982), the American industrialist, test pilot and aeronautical engineer who, in 1929 co-founded Grumman Aeronautical Engineering Co., later renamed Grumman Aerospace Corporation, which is now part of Northrop Grumman. By the outbreak of war in 1939, Grumman`s company was struggling but the award of important civil and military contracts saw a reversal of fortune. The company went on to design and produce iconic aircraft including the Wildcat, F6F Hellcat, TBF Avenger torpedo bomber, F7F Tigercat and F8F Bearcat fighter.