HMS Illustrious, part of the Response Force Task Group deployed on Cougar 13, has participated in Exercise Omani Cougar. During the six day exercise around 20 sailors were given the opportunity to switch ships for the day to experience how their Omani counterpart’s ships operate and get a chance to engage with sailors, to share experiences and knowledge.
The Royal Navy of Oman (RNO) primarily operates coastal craft that are small by comparison with 22,000 tons that HMS Illustrious displaces.
HMS Illustrious hosted nine personnel from RNOV Al Sharqiyah, a Dhofar Class Fast Attack Craft.
The ship has a complement of 43 sailors compared with the 1200 that can live and work on board HMS Illustrious.
The visit began with tour of the Marine Engineering department, and the Royal Navy of Oman sailors seemed particularly impressed by the ship’s Rolls Royce gas turbine engines and the ship’s ability to produce daily 400 tons of water.
Three sailors from HMS Illustrious were able to enjoy the view from the upper deck of the Royal Naval Omani Vessel Al Najah.
Lt Cdr Bleasdale said:
“It was really interesting to understand and witness how the Omanis operate and the parity that the joint training for the officers at BRNC Dartmouth brings to the exercise.
“It was also refreshing to experience a different type of breakfast, with chickpea in masala sauce on the menu!”
The Cougar 13 deployment also includes operations in the Mediterranean, Red Sea, the Gulf, and Horn of Africa. It involves exercising with partner nations, and demonstrates the UK Armed Forces’ capacity to project an effective maritime component anywhere in the world.
Press Release, November 11, 2013; Image: Royal Navy