Sailors from HMS Lancaster have spent an action-packed two months helping to train those who fight beneath, on and above the waves – now and in the future.
Submariners, aviators and warfare officers all have the Portsmouth-based frigate to thank for the intensive work-out the ship gave them off the South Coast of England.
First to make use of the Type 23 frigate were the Lynx Mk8 crews of 702 Naval Air Squadron who needed to gain some experience of operating the nimble helicopter at sea.
The Lynx is the backbone of frigate and destroyer operations around the globe – no RN warship deploys without one (or the larger Merlin) on the flight deck.
Over eight intensive days, trainee pilots made 350 landings on the frigate’s relatively small flight deck during over 60 hours of flying operations.
Just for good measure, the Lynx’s successor Wildcat also paid a visit to the ship during its thorough trials and training programme, which has also seen it working with helicopter carrier HMS Illustrious recently.
If all this wasn’t enough to keep the 180-strong crew on their toes, the ‘Queen’s Frigate’ – launched by Her Majesty, who is the Duke of Lancaster – spent three days giving budding submarine commanders the run-around in the Channel.
Lancaster’s built to hunt down and destroy hostile submarines and, in company with fishery patrol ships HMS Severn and Tyne, chased down a Trafalgar-class hunter-killer boat nearly 50 times in a 72-hour period.
Aboard the T-boat were Royal Navy and French would-be submarine captains undergoing the gruelling Perisher – the official name is the Submarine Command Course – which determines whether ‘deeps’ are made of the ‘right stuff’ to act as the commander or executive officer of a nuclear-powered submarine.
Continuing the right stuff theme, Lancaster moved on to high-intensity warfighting in the English Channel, operating with several other British warships, aircraft and submarines – the final test for the RN’s future Principal Warfare Officers before they go off to jobs in warships deployed all over the world.
Press Release, June 19, 2014; Image: UK Navy