Royal Navy’s HMS Westminster tests Sting Ray light-weight torpedo

Royal Navy frigate HMS Westminster tested her Sting Ray light-weight torpedo during her weapons systems trials which she started after undergoing a two-year refit.

A drogue parachute begins to deploy as a Sting Ray is propelled from its launcher and the magazine-launched torpedo system on the ‘capital ship’ is put through its paces.

Having uncoiled its towed-array sonar – a 1,700-metre ‘tail’ lined with hydrophones (underwater microphones) which is normally wrapped around a gigantic drum behind the quarterdeck – to listen for any submarine activity, the weapons maintainers and ops room team flashed up the torpedo as well.

The Sting Ray launchers – just forward of the Portsmouth frigate’s hangar – use high pressure to drive the torpedo out of its tube, before the small parachute deploys and slows its entry into the water.

Thereafter, Sting Ray – just 8ft 6in long, but packing a 100lb explosive charge to ruin any submariner’s day – races through the water at more than 50mph until it strikes its target.

In this instance, the dummy weapon was recovered once the exercise was complete.

The system is among a Type 23’s last line of defence against the submarine menace; normally the towed array should find an enemy boat long before it is within striking range, and a Merlin or Wildcat helicopter armed with Sting Rays or depth charges should have finished it off.

Ensuring both towed array and magazine-launched system were in full working order was a team under Petty Officer Engineering Technician Colin Howie.

“The firing of this torpedo system has been able to happen through hard work by a very able and determined team,” he said. “It proves working in partnership with the civilians and other agencies the Royal Navy is still a force to be reckoned with.”

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