HMS Westminster is working as part of the Navy’s Response Force Task Group (RFTG) which is on an annual deployment to the Mediterranean and the Gulf to test the flexibility and capability of the force.
Part of their tasking includes working alongside NATO allies – and in Westminster’s case this came in the form of the Italian destroyer Francesco Mimbelli and submarine Salvatore Pelosi.
Taking turns to practise hunting for each other, the sailors from both ships and the submarine were put through their paces in an action-packed few days. As well as testing sensors and weapons skills, the exercise also tested the reactions of those on board.
There was also the chance for some of the sailors to experience life on board a partner nation’s vessel. From HMS Westminster, Medical Officer Lieutenant Moira McLellan spent 2 days on the Francesco Mimbelli.
It was a very enjoyable visit and interesting to see the similarities in the day-to-day workings of both navies. However, the culinary differences were very apparent, with pizza being served on Mimbelli’s bridge at 10 in the morning.
Aside from the anti-submarine exercise, HMS Westminster has been busy undertaking a wide range of tasks including flying, gunnery and boarding as part of her Cougar deployment and also in preparation for operations further afield.
HMS Westminster is due to leave the Cougar force before the end of their deployment and take up station in the Gulf as one of the Royal Navy’s long-standing commitments to the region.
This annual deployment involves exercising with partner nations and will show the UK Armed Forces’ capacity to project an effective maritime component anywhere in the world as part of the RFTG, which is being commanded by Commodore Paddy McAlpine from the fleet flagship HMS Bulwark.
The RFTG is the United Kingdom’s high readiness maritime force, made up of ships, submarines, aircraft and a landing force of Royal Marines, at 5 days’ notice to act in response to any contingency tasking including humanitarian disaster relief and international military intervention.