Royal Navy frigate deploys for major anti-submarine warfare drill off Canada

Royal Navy Type 23 frigate HMS Northumberland departed Plymouth on August 28 to take part in one of the largest anti-submarine warfare maneuvers in the North Atlantic.

HMS Northumberland departing Plymouth. Photo: Royal Navy

The frigate will sail 3,000 miles to Nova Scotia, Canada, where it will join forces with other like-minded warships taking part in Cutlass Fury 2019.

Every few years the Canadian Atlantic Fleet invites NATO navies to hunt submarines in the challenging waters off their Eastern Seaboard.

Cutlass Fury 2019 is the largest such workout since the mid-1990s with 22 warships from Canada, the USA, UK, Spain, France and Germany committed to the 11-day exercise, alongside jets, helicopters and maritime patrol aircraft.

The exercise will focus on tactical training meshing different practices, equipment and ideas so that all participants can work together.

And to ensure that Cutlass Fury is not all one-way traffic, some of the surface ships will become the hunted as the submarine crews hone their skills.

For good measure, air defense, board and search and amphibious operations are also included to test personnel on and above the waves, as well as beneath them.

Cutlass Fury leads into Northumberland’s principal mission of the autumn, taking her place in HMS Queen Elizabeth’s carrier strike group as the future flagship conducts training off the coast of the USA on her Westlant 19 deployment.

It’s the first duty of Northumberland to shield the carrier task force from the prying eyes of hostile submarines as Queen Elizabeth embarks British front-line F-35B Lightning stealth fighters for the first time.

Joining the frigate and the 65,000-tonne carrier will be Type 45 air defense destroyer HMS Dragon, Merlin helicopters from RNAS Culdrose and RNAS Yeovilton, as well as Wildcats from 815 Naval Air Squadron.

“HMS Northumberland joining the HMS Queen Elizabeth carrier strike task group is a key milestone in developing the integrated task group capability that will be the centrepiece of Royal Navy operations for the future,” said Commodore Rob Bellfield, Commander Devonport Flotilla.

RFA Tideforce will provide tanker support and Lima Company, 42 Commando Royal Marines, based in Plymouth and a medical team will also be embarked in the carrier.