HMS Montrose, Hellenic Navy Exercise in Mediterranean
As part of the Response Force Task Group (RFTG), HMS Montrose Is currently in the Mediterranean as part of the COUGAR 13 deployment. One of the main aims of the RFTG and COUGAR 13 is to promote interaction with our allied forces in the region, and as such HMS Montrose Seized the opportunity to collaborate, in spectacular style, with the Hellenic Navy, namely the HS Kanaris.
Interaction began 6 months ago at the very highest levels, before direct liaison started between HN N5 planning staff, COMUKTG staff, and the Operations team on board Montrose. This successfully generated an outline plan for a 48 hour Passage Exercise (PASSEX) which, within the last week, was refined by the teams in Kanaris.
The exercise programme was very busy, ensuring that both nations gained the maximum benefit from the complex anti-surface warfare serials, communication serials and ship manoeuvres.
The serials started in the dead of night with both ships attempting to ‘hunt’ the other using their respective passive detection systems, a cat and mouse scenario that lasted throughout the night proving that each ship was as hard to find as the other.
Shortly before the end of the serial both ships located their opponent and, using their sophisticated on board anti surface weapons, engaged in a simulated missile firing. This simulated kinetic interaction was followed by a number of complex and involved communications serials, ranging from flashing lights, through tactical voice procedures, up to electronic warfare.
As the sun was rising on the second day Montrose and Kanaris Started a set of Officer Of the Watch Manoeuvres, designed to ensure that the ship’s bridge teams were prepared for the upcoming gunnery serial.
These manoeuvres ensure that the ships are able to work in the same water space at close quarters and high speeds, whilst always maintaining safe distances and, most importantly, not fouling each others weapon arcs.
Later that morning Montrose’s Lynx Mk8, callsign Claymore conducted a winching exercise with Lt Chris Poulson (OOW1), after which he was transferred to the Kanaris as part of a CrossPol, in exchange Lt (JG) Mpikakis was brought to Montrose to witness the Mass Fires exercise, which consisted of a simultaneous indirect bombardment on the Karavia range, situated on the island of Megalo Nisaki East of Greece.
The bombardment was ‘called in’ using Claymore as an aerial spotting platform, embarked in her were members of Montrose’s affiliated, Army Regiment, namely 148 Battery from 29 Commando Regiment of the Royal Artillery, who passed accuracy reports and firing corrections to the ships.
Using her Oto Malara 3 inch gun, Kanaris was first on the range and demonstrated superb accuracy and rate of fire, completing her missions without fault. Montrose then put her reliable 4.5 inch Mod 1 turret into action. After 60 rounds of high explosives all missions were complete and all simulated targets had been destroyed.
The exchange officers were returned to their own ships using the helicopter, callsign Spartan, from Kanaris, this provided Montrose with the opportunity to work with an AB212 airframe, a first for the ship and another success for interoperability.
Once back on board Montrose, Lt Paulson recounted his experience on board Kanaris, saying
“I was made very welcome by our allies, and was very impressed by the professionalism and attitude of everyone I met on board the Kanaris. It brought home to me how similarly our navies work and how much we have in common.
It is an experience I will remember for a long time.”
Lt (JG) Mpikakis was as complimentary of his time on board Montrose saying,
“It has been a great experience to see Montrose operate with the Kanaris, I am especially impressed with the operation of the medium range gun.”
As the PASSEX completed, the Commanding Officer of HMS Montrose, Commander James Parkin said,
“It has been a privilege to work with the HS Kanaris and to prove, unequivocally, that we are able to inter operate at an advanced level with the Hellenic Navy, especially as Greece is such an important partner to the UK.
“I look forward to further working with them in the future.”
Press Release, September 13, 2013; Image: Navy