Minehunter gets ASW capability boost for English Channel exercises

HMS Hurworth as seen from the Merlin helicopter. Photo: Royal Navy

A submarine hunting helicopter from Royal Naval Air Station Culdrose has been supporting mine warfare training in the English Channel.

The airborne anti-submarine Merlin from 824 Naval Air Squadron teamed up with its surface counter-part for a series exercises to familiarise HMS Hurworth, a Hunt-class mine countermeasures vessel (MCMV) based at Devonport Naval Base, with aviation procedures and practice winching techniques.

Overall the MCMV Fleet provide mine warfare expertise to the Royal Navy and its NATO allies, playing a vital part in the worldwide MCMV operations from the Middle East to the North Atlantic.

But before the ship and her crew can deploy, the ships company must be tested. HMS Hurworth is currently undergoing operational sea training (OST) with flag officer sea training (FOST).

The minehunters are based at Devonport, Plymouth as well as the Clyde Naval Base in Scotland. FOST has the responsibility for OST of all Royal Navy warships, submarines and Royal Fleet Auxiliaries vessels and is staffed by a dedicated team of experts, headed by a rear Admiral.

Together with Royal Marines and air assets as well as an increasing numbers of NATO and foreign participants conducting training under its guidance, FOST has established a worldwide reputation for excellence.

HMS Hurworth is one of eight dedicated mine countermeasures vessels in the Royal Navy. Introduced in the early 1980s they are the largest glass re-enforced warships ever built and are the last to operate using the Napier Deltic diesel engine.

The capabilities of the Hunt class have been significantly enhanced by the installation of Type 2193 sonar and the NAUTIS 3 command system.

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