UK: RN Reservists Assume Key Roles in Two International Exercises
Royal Naval Reservists from HMS President in London played key roles in two large international exercises in the closing months of 2012.
Lieutenant Commanders Howie San and Pat Shinner swapped their civilian careers, the former with US shipping giant AT&T and the latter for a financial software firm in the City of London, and donned their naval uniforms for Exercise Joint Warrior in the northern waters of the UK.
At the same time Lieutenant Tony Scott, global enterprise architect for engineering consulting firm Arup, deployed to the Mediterranean with the French Navy in the waters off Toulon and Marseille for Exercise Noble Mariner.
As the Submarine Control Team reporting to the Joint Warrior Task Group Commander, Howie and Pat worked in the operations room of the Type 23 frigate HMS Kent.
They were responsible for directing the Norwegian submarine HNoMS Utvaer as she engaged warships from a dozen nations in the cat-and-mouse style manoeuvres that define submarine warfare.
With 22 warships from a dozen nations taking part in the exercise, the Ula class diesel-electric powered submarine was much in demand. Howie and Pat ensured that her movements did not conflict with that of other submarines operating in the area, including a very special arrival.
A day before starting Joint Warrior, HMS Kent was assigned as the safety ship to oversee the first open water dive of the Royal Navy’s newest nuclear submarine, HMS Ambush.
“It was a privilege to see the latest addition to the Fleet and one of the most powerful submarines in the world.”
1,200 miles away, in the warmer Mediterranean waters, Lieutenant Tony Scott was one of a number of personnel from HMS President and other Royal Naval Reserve units who deployed for Exercise Noble Mariner.
The annual exercise plays an important part in the certification process of the NATO Response Force (NRF).
The objective of Noble Mariner 12 was to certify the capacity of France to lead the maritime component of the NRF. Units taking part included 26 warships from 10 NATO nations, as well as helicopters, Maritime Patrol Aircraft and jet fighters from French Aircraft Carrier Charles de Gaulle.
Tony was based on board French Ship Var, a Durance class replenishment tanker equipped with headquarters facilities. He worked as a battle watch captain in the mine warfare battle staff, responsible for the conduct of mine hunting ships and divers from a number of nations.
This was the role he performed while mobilised to the Gulf for most of 2009.
“Although French-led, our battle staff in Var included representatives from ten NATO countries,” Tony explained.
“We all spoke English – mostly – and I was incredibly impressed with how well integrated we became in no time at all.”
France only recently re-joined NATO as a full member. This exercise played an important role for the French personnel taking part to gain familiarity in working with their NATO allies.
“I was pleased to be able to make a difference during the exercise, training French personnel in modern NATO mine warfare practices.
“It was a vindication of the training the RNR has given me. But it wasn’t all one-way learning.
“For example I spent one day of the exercise in FS Pegase, a French mine hunter, and found some of their capabilities to be very impressive indeed.”
Exercises like Joint Warrior and Noble Mariner are just some of the opportunities Royal Naval Reservists have to train alongside their regular counterparts during their annual training fortnights. This training helps prepare them for their longer periods of mobilisation.
Naval Today Staff, January 23, 2013; Image: Royal Navy