Periscope of USS Dallas and HMS Illustrious
The periscope of the American submarine USS Dallas cuts through the surface as HMS Illustrious sails past in the morning haze.
HMS Illustrious, RFA Fort Victoria, RFA Fort Austin, USS Bulkeley and the American Los Angeles Class Submarine USS Dallas took part in a joint anti submarine exercise in the Middle East.
The aims of the exercise is to develop maritime interoperability by exercising Anti-Submarine Warfare tactics with US allies in the challenging sonar environment of the warm and shallow waters of the Gulf region.
The exercise was broken down into three phases. The ships and submarines initially tested acoustic and non-acoustics sensor performance against known positions, gaining useful real life data for the region.
The second phase relied on the ships escorting HMS Illustrious as the Mission Essential Unit (MEU) along a passage whilst evading detection and simulated torpedo attacks by USS Dallas.
In the final phase USS Dallas tried to locate and destroy RFA Fort Austin as the MEU, in a holding box which simulated an anchorage, as the UK and US naval ships provided protection. Additional helicopter support to the ships was ably provided by the Anti-Submarine sonar dipping Merlins embarked in HMS Illustrious and USS Bulkeley's Seahawk, with Westminster's Mark 8 Lynx helicopter providing an additional surface search and weapon carrying capability
HMS Illustrious Refuelling from FS Somme
HMS Illustrious (right) takes fuel from the French supply tanker FS Somme.
HMS Illustrious met up with the FS Somme today, a tanker from the French Navy, to conduct a Replenishment At Sea (RAS). This is where two ships sail at extremely close quarters, pass lines between the two of them, and then pump fuel across. Even though Lusty only sailed a few days ago, it is always prudent to take the opportunity to top up the tanks when possible. This was also a useful training evolution for both ships companies, and once again demonstrated interoperability between the Royal Navy and the French Navy.
HMS Illustrious is currently deployed on Cougar 13. Cougar is the annual deployment of the UK Armed Forces Maritime Response Force Task Group to the Mediterranean and East of Suez. The deployment serves to protect the free, safe and lawful use of the sea and to promote UK interests by developing international partnerships. Cougar allows the UK's maritime assets to exercise with multinational forces in the Gulf region, enhancing our interoperability