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● A hunting we will go (Pt 1)
... HMS Westminster’s
armourers prepare to
fi t a Stingray torpedo
to her 829 NAS Merlin
HILE we’re ‘enjoying’ a British summer, the
ships of Her Majesty’s Navy are lapping up an
Indian spring.
It’s warm. It’s sunny (most of a good team around you,” said Lt
the time). Just don’t go in the Whitehall.
water. One of her O ‘good team’
For lurking beneath the he is LS is Thomas Edenbrow
seemingly benign waves of s of who wwho as closed up in the
the Indian Ocean are aatt operaop tions room.
least two submarines,, “It can get pretty
stalking their prey. intense when you’re
Every two years hunting any threat, but
the Indians invite this type of warfare
friendly navies to join adds that little extra
them for a large-scale excitement,”
submarine hunt. “It’s a great feeling
Lusty was here when you finally find
two years ago – but the submarine and
she didn’t have such a a engage heren .”
formidable sub hunting In just one week, the
force with her then. Merlins notched up 100 hours
As we reported last of flying – at times round
month, for the first time the clock.
all the Flying Tigers have Indeed the practice
embarked on the ship in reached its peak with
their Merlin incarnation: ‘ripple’ flying: the aircraft
six helicopters and itself remained aloft on
140 personnel of 814 the hunt for more than
Naval Air Squadron. 24 hours, landing
Merlin comprises only to change crews
half of the Orion 08 and refuel roughly
anti-submarine one- ever six hours.
two. “The combination
The other punch of Merlin and
is delivered by Sonar Westminster’s 2087
2087, carried by HMS makes it much harder for
Westminster, which can find submarines to hide – as we
even the quietest of submarines at demonstrated several times,” said
ranges well beyond existing RN Lt Whitehall.
sonars. Lt Mark Sharples, an 814 NAS
Indeed, after being the hunter observer, enthused: “The mighty
for decades, the boot is now firmly Merlin and its crews proved
on the other foot. themselves to be a formidable
Feeling the full force (well, anti-submarine asset – and one
not quite the full force because that submariners should not take
live weapons were not, of course, lightly.”
used) of that boot were HMS We would ask them, but they’re
Trafalgar and Indian diesel esels l prop wling the Indian Ocean w
boat INS Shishumar. several hundred feet
Anti-submarinenen e down...w
warfare is, as one ofofo TThis was Lusty’s bread
Lusty’s principle warfarare e e and ban utter during the
officers Lt Sally Cold War; these days
Whitehall pointed the emphasis is much
out, “something of more on strike
an art”. and amphibious
You don’t just fire operations... but that
up your sonar and doesn’t mean that
start dipping wildly new dogs can’t learn
with your buoys. old tricks.
Luckily, as the Flying g “The Tigers have
Tigers had been aboard rd gone from strength togo
for three months, by the time strength since embarking in
they’d reach Indian shores, they Illustrious in January,” said 814’s
were at the top of their game. CO Cdr Steve Deacon.
That was thanks in part to a And if hunting submarines
little help from HMS Trafalgar. wasn’t enough to keep Team Lusty
For as the Orion 08 group steamed on their toes, they also had a
from the Gulf of Oman to Goa, visit from Naval Flying Standards
the Fleet submarine joined the who examine all aspects of flight
task force to begin a game of cat operations both in the air and on
and mouse. the ground (or, in this case, metal
“Any anti-submarine exercise box on the ocean).
can be challenging because it’s not So after several days of hunting
something that happens straight submarines... the Orion force fired
away – you really have to stay up for several days of hunting
focussed all the time, so you need submarines.
● How much fun are we having? (Below) One of Westminster’s sea
boats races across the Indian Ocean and (left) He couldn’t give a
Firex for anything else... a mock casualty screams during a rather
realistic fi re-fi ghting drill in Westminster’s galley
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