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Lucky Severn as patrol boat outfoxes would-be submarine commanders

Lucky Severn as patrol boat outfoxes would-be submarine commanders
29 November 2016
In the cross-hairs of a prospective submarine commander is HMS Severn – and beyond evasive manoeuvres, there’s not a lot she can do about it.

The patrol ship dropped normal fishery protection duties for a few days to help train submarine skippers of tomorrow in the final ‘live action’ phase of their training and assessment on the infamous Perisher course.

After a few days of high-speed manoeuvres with the Trafalgar-class submarine and Severn playing cat and mouse in close proximity, Perisher closed with a day-night exercise with the added frisson of HMS Somerset entering the fray.

The frigate was charged with hunting down the submarine – and making sure Severn, playing the role of a vital supply ship, was not torpedoed.

Hugging the coast disguised as a fishing vessel with her radars switched off, running different engine configurations and with bright lights flooding the cargo deck, Severn successfully remained undetected and watched the game of hunter and hunted from a safe distance.

Being given a position of authority and responsibility like this is such a great motivator

ET(ME) Dominic Bell

Having helped train submariners, the boot was on the other foot when Severn herself had to undergo ten days of intensive assessment of her own: Operational Sea Training.

All 45 sailors – rather than the usual 30 – were aboard for (deep breath) 12 damage control exercises fighting simulated fires and floods; two ‘safety of life at sea’ events involving boarding a damaged vessel to provide assistance; machinery breakdowns; force protection exercises and live firing shoots using the main 20mm cannon and machine-guns.

Over the ten-day appraisal, the ship carried out 21 pilotages, going to a buoy three times, to anchor twice and to sea each morning then alongside each night to undergo inspections.

Having never been in charge of the emergency sea party before, ET(ME) Dominic Bell particularly impressed the assessors for his zeal in dealing with the chaos the FOST staff caused.

“Being given a position of authority and responsibility like this is such a great motivator,” said the junior engineer. “I was shocked when I was chosen, but eager to take up the position.”

His hard work – and that of his shipmates – paid off for Severn received a ‘very satisfactory’ assessment from the FOSTies (who normally pronounce RN vessels ‘satisfactory’), with the logistics department singled out for praise, earning a ‘good’ rating and the unofficial accolade of the best FOST staff had seen in 18 months.

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