Royal Navy’s Type 23 frigate HMS Lancaster departed Portsmouth on 15 August to begin its three-year mission in the Middle East.
The “Queen’s Frigate”, launched by Queen Elizabeth II in 1990 and named after her as the Duke of Lancaster, will become the second major Royal Navy warship to operate out of Bahrain on a three-year security mission.
From there, the ship will work with regional partners, providing security to the UK and international shipping, and preventing the proliferation of arms and drugs smuggling which directly impacts the security of the Middle East and Europe.
Before Lancaster reaches its new operational theatre, the vessel has extensive duties to perform in European and Mediterranean waters with NATO.
The unit is due to conduct patrols with two NATO task forces Standing Group 1 and Standing Group 2.
The work with the alliance’s two task groups bookend HMS Lancaster’s involvement in NATO’s tech trials/exercises: REPMUS and Dynamic Messenger, both staged off the coast of Portugal next month.
More than 40 crewless systems are due to be tested at REPMUS – NATO’s largest autonomous war games – with craft above, on and below the waves all being assessed alongside regular warships such as HMS Lancaster, according to the navy.
“The aim of the two exercises is to see how the uncrewed systems can operate safely and effectively with other NATO assets, and how collectively the participants from several allied nations can exploit the tech and harness the information autonomous systems gather,” the navy stated.
And then, after a stint with NATO Standing Group 2, Lancaster will pass through the Suez Canal, Red Sea and Gulf of Oman before taking its place in the Gulf alongside other Royal Navy and Royal Fleet Auxiliary ships operating in the Middle East.
To remind, UK shipbuilding company BAE Systems has recently completed maintenance and upgrades of the ship to optimize its performance during the deployment.