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● Five stars... (Clockwise from top right) a bagger Sea King, an 815 NAS Lynx, a US SH-60 Seahawk,
an 847 NAS Lynx and a Merlin approach the Scottish coast with HMS Albion in the background
All in ’tun
IT IS to the good fortune of the Allied nations of this
Mounts Bay bolstered the amphibiou
world that the poor folk of Brownia and Mustardia are
Kent and St Albans provided protectio
forever at loggerheads.
for mines.
Among the foreign ships part
For their misfortune permits the armed forces of Britain and her
Hessen, American destroyer US
confederates to hone their skills.
Of course, Brownia and Mustardia do not exist (and their
For Ark Royal, this was th
location has a habit of shifting from north-west Scotland to
as a commando helicopter
south-west England), but the in-fighting and unrest between
performed admirably in the
these two fictitious nations is played out around the globe
now better able to carry out
almost daily.
For Illustrious, this was t
It is played out in Scottish waters each spring and autumn
the Naval Strike Wing, the
in the guise of the Neptune Warrior war game – the successor
Harrier, the combined Fleet
to the Joint Maritime Course – a naval-led exercise with
jet formation.
important land and air aspects.
And for HMS Kent there wa
Eight nations committed forces to Neptune Warrior 071: United
chance to relive childhood memori
States, France, Germany, Italy, the Netherlands, Norway and Denmark,
The frigate anchored in Brodick Bay o
plus the UK.
the isle of Arran – in years gone by the
In all 19 ships, 20 helicopters, and three score aircraft were deployed
childhood holiday haunt of the ship’s
from Campbeltown in the south to the Cape Wrath ranges at the
CO Cdr Gavin Pritchard.
northwestern tip of the British mainland.
Kent hosted a small reception for
Probably not since the invasion of Iraq four years ago has the RN
local dignitaries and enjoyed some
mustered such a strike force – a strike carrier in the form of Illustrious, an
outstanding hospitality from Arran’s
assault ship in the form of Albion and a commando helicopter carrier in
residents, including a football match
the shape of Ark Royal.
(the Scots won 4-2) a charity golf
And if you have a strike carrier, you need a strike force.
match at Machrie
Enter the newly-formed Naval Strike Wing – the Fleet Air Arm half of
“This was a once in a lifetime oppo
Joint Force Harrier.
bring my ship to the place I know best
This is the first and only appearance by the naval jump jets on Lusty this
enjoy a relaxing break,” said Cdr Pritcha
year as commitments will take them elsewhere and their RAF counterparts
“I know the ship’s company have en
will provide the carrier’s airborne punch.
from the people of Arran was overwhelm
A mix of GR7 and GR9 versions of the ground-attack Harrier came
Typically after major exercises, task
aboard Illustrious, guided on to their targets by the airborne and ground
instance, the Neptune Warriors generally
surveillance and control Sea Kings of 849 NAS (pictured on our front
their way across the North Sea to the K
exercise Noble Mariner, involving 80
And the 849 team notched up their inaugural ‘first’ aboard Illustrious as
more than a dozen Allied nations.
observers under training honed their burgeoning skills on the carrier.
The bulk of the ships put in to G
With the front-line squadrons of the Fleet Air Arm’s surveillance
case, Oslo which proved to be “a crack
specialists already away on operations, a fourth Sea King Mk7 unit was
ABLogs(Pers) Jodie Simpson. (She di
scrambled for the Navy’s major involvement in war games off Scotland
“ready to get back to sea and get the job
and in the Baltic.
■ We’ll have a report from Noble Marin
Airborne Surveillance and Control Sea Kings and aircrew were
borrowed from 854 and 857 Naval Air Squadrons.
“Illustrious had the ideal programme of exercises within which to
dovetail ASaC observer training,” said the detachment’s senior observer
● (Below) A landing craft vehicle and
Lt Justin Matthews.
seas and (right) the distinctive silhou
“Neptune Warrior allowed the students to settle into the new regime
well before ramping up to the more demanding Exercise Noble Mariner
where we can allow them to show their mettle in their final phase of flying
Deploying the trainees with Lusty was a bit of a gamble, but a gamble
that looks like it has paid off – and bodes well for the future.
“Embarking students for the first time was not without risk,” said
detachment commander Lt Cdr Geoff Hayward, “But Illustrious’ ship’s
company have made us all feel extremely welcome, and the students have
responded remarkably well to the demands of life at sea.
“I fully expect them to prove that the best place to complete training for
a maritime helicopter observer is while embarked.”
Back on the water, new landing support ships RFA Largs Bay and
● A sight unseen in Faslane for four years... crystal clear-blue skies (groan – Ed)... HMS Ark Royal is
helped by tugs towards HM Naval Base Clyde, the fi rst fl at-top to visit since 2003
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