UK Warship, Submarine Join War Games in Gulf of Oman

Navy Accepts Delivery of Future USS Michael Murphy

The British duo joined warships from the USA, Saudi Arabia and Pakistan – including an old Royal Navy favourite – for the war games in the Gulf of Oman.

In the seemingly ever-present haze of the Gulf region, a Trafalgar-class submarine and an approximate American counterpart, USS Pittsburgh, lead a seven-strong naval task group as a major international exercise draw to a close in the Gulf of Oman.

These are the participants of Arabian Shark 12 – the latest in a regular series of anti-submarine exercises held in the Middle East region for the past decade.

As well as the T-boat and the US Los Angeles-class nuclear submarine, the Royal Navy committed frigate HMS Westminster to Arabian Shark, the Americans provided destroyer USS Sterett, the Saudis corvettes HMS Hitteen and Badr and from Pakistan, a blast from the past for the RN participants: PNS Badr – she’s better known to Brits as former Type 21 frigate HMS Alacrity.

For Westminster, roughly half-way through her east of Suez, Arabian Shark was a chance for her to get back to her raison d’être – fresh from counter-piracy operations and the success of a £14m drugs bust.

The Portsmouth-based ‘capital ship’ and her 12 Type 23 frigate sisters were designed in the late 1980s to hunt Soviet submarines in the North Atlantic.

Since then the world has changed – as has the technology: Westminster has the best submarine-hunting helicopter in the world (an 829 Naval Air Squadron Merlin) and the world’s best submarine-hunting sonar (2087).

So let the games begin as the hunter-killers tried to hunt and kill the warships… and the surface forces did likewise in search of the submarines.

The main aims of the exercise were to strengthen military relationships and improve war-fighting techniques of all the navies involved.

Lt Thom Hobbs, Westminster’s Principal Warfare Officer (Underwater) said

Arabian Shark was a significant international exercise allowing for the strong bonds between the participating nations to be reinforced,”

We are working together to ensure security and stability at sea.”

The exercise was hailed a resounding success with all of the units involved gaining valuable training with a variety of other nations units in a strategically important area of the world.

With Arabian Shark concluded, the T-boat and Pittsburgh made a rare appearance on the surface of a wonderfully-calm Arabian Sea for the ever-popular task group photograph.

Westminster has now resumed her wider maritime security role in the Indian Ocean. Since leaving Portsmouth in January she has mostly been employed as part of the 25-Nation Combined Maritime Force counter-piracy task force, disrupting pirate activity and making the region safer for the vital merchant shipping that passes through the region.

She’s due back in the Solent in August.

Naval Today Staff , May 06, 2012; Image: royalnavy