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Dutch submarine visits Portsmouth for the weekend

19 February 2018
For the first time in two years a submarine arrived into Portsmouth at the weekend for a port visit on its way back to the Netherlands.

Dutch submarine visits Portsmouth for the weekendHMNLS Walrus and her 62 crew are visiting Portsmouth whilst conducting Operational Sea Training with the Royal Navy’s Flag Officer Sea Training (FOST) organisation.

They have been training with HMS Argyll, HMS Montrose, RFA Tidespring, 820 Naval Air Squadron (NAS) and HNoMS Helge Ingstad off the coast of Plymouth.

Lt Cdr Jan-Willem Vroegop, the Commanding Officer of HMNLS Walrus, said: “We are here in Portsmouth for some rest and recreation. For the past three weeks we have been working with FOST.

“During those exercises we’ve been acting as a hostile submarine, so our main task was to search for the frigates and the main target, RFA Tidespring in order to test the boat and her crew.

“We work with the Royal Navy quite a lot, training with FOST; usually we go to Plymouth but sometimes we come to Portsmouth.”

During those exercises we’ve been acting as a hostile submarine, so our main task was to search for the frigates and the main target, RFA Tidespring in order to test the boat and her crew

Lieutenant Commander Jan-Willem Vroegop, Commanding Officer of HMNLS Walrus

The Walrus, which was commissioned into the Royal Netherlands Navy in 1992, is equipped with four 21-inch torpedo tubes and 20 Honeywell torpedoes, with the boat specialising in stealth missions. The vessel is a diesel submarine, is 68 metres in length and can remain submerged for very long periods.

Increasing numbers of NATO and foreign units participate in training under the guidance of FOST which has established a worldwide reputation of excellence.

820 Naval Air Squadron based at Royal Naval Air Station Culdrose have also spent the last few weeks working with the Dutch submarine, engaging in a friendly cat-and-mouse style game of hide and seek.

With the submarine trying to evade detection and the helicopter trying to find and “destroy” them, both units have gained useful training from the exercises.

With their Mark 2 Merlin helicopters, 820NAS has at their disposal the worlds most advanced Anti-Submarine aircraft. With its sensor fit of radar, sonar and various other pieces of clever equipment, the grey Merlin gives everything on and under the water more than a run for its money.

820’s Senior Observer, Lt Cdr Karen Barnicoat, has been in the helicopter looking for the submarine.

She said: “As Merlin Mk2 Aircrew, Anti-Submarine Warfare (ASW) is our primary role. The opportunity to test our submarine-hunting skills against the highly professional Royal Netherlands Navy submarine crew was fantastic. 

“With the impressive suite of sensors the Merlin Mk2 offers, we were able to find them and simulate a few torpedo attacks - great training for all involved!”

HMNLS Walrus spent the weekend in Portsmouth before resuming her training off the South Coast exercise areas. She is due to return home in March.

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