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HMS Richmond joins Indian frigate for annual exercise

HMS Richmond joins Indian frigate
Punching through the Channel just a few yards apart, HMS Richmond and Indian frigate Tarkash conduct joint training in the annual get-together between the two Commonwealth navies.

Normally held in or near the stretch of coast in India which gives the exercise its name - Konkan - this year it fell to the RN to host its long-standing ally, who dispatched their relatively new Talwar-class frigate some 6,000 miles to the UK for the 2017 incarnation.

The British weather curtailed some, though not all, of the joint training which saw the Tarkash - billed as a 'stealth frigate' and taking her name from the Sanskrit for 'quiver of arrows' - and Richmond make use of the South Coast Exercise Areas off Plymouth to conduct advanced warfare drills.

Four members of each ship's company traded places for the day to learn about life in the two navies, their similarities and differences; the Indian Navy grew out of the Royal Navy, taking many of its traditions and practices.

That was 70 years ago - since when the Indian Navy has become a very powerful, independent maritime force, but one which maintains close ties with the RN, not least because the UK maintains a permanent presence in the Indian Ocean.

Our visit to the Tarkash was a truly memorable experience

Sub Lt Luke Murphy

"Our visit to the Tarkash was a truly memorable experience," said Sub Lt Luke Murphy. "It gave us the opportunity to get involved in a wide variety of tasks from riding in the sea boat to witnessing the exercise from the operations room.

"This provided us with a great appreciation for the capabilities and professionalism of the Indian Navy."

After the weather cut short the joint training and the guests had been returned to their original ships, Tarkash made for London to take part in events celebrating the 'UK-India year of culture' (she was welcomed into the capital by cricket legend Sachin Tendulkar).

As for Richmond, she took part in Konkan after a busy period of spring training, chiefly testing her anti-submarine warfare skills against would-be submarine skippers of tomorrow who were undergoing the demanding Perisher course. Frigate and boat took it in turns to be hunter and hunted.

Next up for Richmond is a week of dynamic machinery trials intended to assess the state of her engines before the frigate goes into a period of upkeep later in the year, followed by a high-profile visit to London where, among other things, the frigate will be participating in the ancient Ceremony of the Constable's Dues which dates back to the 14th Century and will see the ship's company parading at the Tower of London.

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