HMS Northumberland Takes Part in Major Exercise Hosted by Pakistani Navy

HMS Northumberland Takes Part in Major Exercise Hosted by Pakistani Navy

HMS Northumberland flew the flag for Britain when she was Britain’s participant in a major naval exercise involving more than two dozen nations in Karachi. Hosted by the Pakistani Navy, Exercise Aman – Urdu for ‘peace’ – demonstrates the united resolve of the nations taking part to combat criminal activities in the Indian Ocean.

After a seemingly interminable and very drab winter, here’s a spot of colour to brighten the day courtesy of the good ship Northumberland.

It’s four years since the RN last had a participant in Aman (Northumberland’s sister HMS Portland in 2009).

The first three days of the exercise are spent in harbour at Karachi as the participants bond, taking part in joint events such as the opening ceremony, wreath laying, an international naval conference and sports and cookery contests.

Then proceedings shift to the Arabian Sea – in the case of Aman 13, two days of action covering the full panoply of maritime security operations, with a ‘fleet review’ to bring the curtain down on events.

The aim is to show the united resolve of the many nations involved in tackling terrorism and other crimes in the Indian Ocean and environs and to honing the skills of disparate Navies – some of whom don’t work together too often, such as South Korea and Jordan, or Malaysia and Yemen, Australia and Turkey.

“The opportunity to exchange ideas with Chinese, American, Australian, Emirati and Italian sailors – all in the same forum – was a fascinating experience,” said Cdr Paddy Dowsett, Northumberland’s Commanding Officer.

He also hosted Britain’s High Commissioner to Pakistan, Adam Thomson, and the head of the Pakistani Navy, Admiral Mohammad Asif Sandila.

“Both the admiral and I trained at Britannia Royal Naval College – and served on Type 21 frigates, which is indicative of the close relationship between our two navies,” Cdr Dowsett added.

At sea there was a chance to let slip the dogs of war with gunnery blasting ‘killer tomato’ inflatable targets, perform counter-piracy demonstrations, carry out cross-deck landings (which means helicopters from the various participants practise landing on different warships), stage a combined search and rescue exercise and practise some replenishments at sea.

Proceedings concluded with formation sailing and a chance to cheer ship as Aman ended with a sail past; Northumberland’s sailors lined the Type 23 frigate’s upper deck to doff caps in salute of the Pakistani combat support ship PNS Nasr.

“Both the harbour and sea phases of Aman provided my ship’s company with an all-too-rare insight into both the culture and tactics of our key regional partners” said Cdr Dowsett.

“In many respects, the harbour phase with its packed programme of social, cultural and sporting activities was as important as the days spent at sea.”

Northumberland is working under the Combined Maritime Forces – a coalition of more than two dozen nations committed to maritime security from the Red Sea to the shores of the Seychelles and Pakistan – carrying out patrols to sweep pirates, terrorists and smugglers from these waters.

She’s due to return to Plymouth in May after nearly eight months away.

Naval Today Staff, March 14, 2013; Image: Royal Navy