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Warship concludes bi-annual exercise with a bang

Warship concludes bi-annual exercise with a bang
25 April 2016
HMS Iron Duke has unleashed her 4.5in gun at Cape Wrath as part of a gunnery serial while on bi-annual war game exercise Joint Warrior.

This marked the culmination of the exercise after 11 days around western Scotland in which all the participants were tested in the art of warfare in all its elements: land, sea and air.

Portsmouth-based Iron Duke has been attached to a NATO task group since January, patrolling the waters of northern Europe, conducting exercises (such as Cold Response in Norway in March), and providing reassurance to Allied nations and navies.

She brought that force – Standing Maritime Group 1, led by the Spanish with their flagship, air defence frigate ESPS Alvaro De Bazan, plus the Danish frigate HDMS Peter Willemoes – for the first of this year’s Joint Warriors.

Iron Duke conducted a gunnery shoot against surface targets, then provided support to troops exercising ashore by firing illumination rounds on to a grid location at Cape Wrath – lighting up the terrain and helping the forces operating ashore.

The exercise has been a challenging time for my ship’s company of 190 personnel, some of whom are on their first deployment away from home

Commander Ben Aldous, Commanding Officer of HMS Iron Duke

In all, 91 rounds left the barrel of the 4.5in gun as part of the ‘joint fires exercise’ on the Cape Wrath ranges, the most northwesterly point in mainland Britain.

The blast not only kept the gunbay team on the British frigate fully occupied, but also honed the skills of 148 Battery Royal Artillery – the Army’s naval gunfire support specialists who spotted for Iron Duke and liaised with her operations room team.

As well as Maritime Group 1, NATO also committed one of its minehunter groups, No.1, to the fortnight-long exercise; among its six ships is Faslane-based HMS Ramsey.

“Aside from gunnery, Joint Warrior has allowed us to practice a wide range of naval tactics and skills including maritime interdiction, boarding operations and replenishment at sea,” said Iron Duke’s Commanding Officer Commander Ben Aldous.

“The exercise has been a challenging time for my ship’s company of 190 personnel, some of whom are on their first deployment away from home. 

“This deployment sends a clear message that the UK is committed to NATO by operating with the task group in Joint Warrior.”

After a short break following its exertions around Scotland, the group heads back to the Baltic to continue its patrols and conduct further exercises with multinational forces.

HMS Iron Duke is due to return to UK waters in the middle of the year.

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