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HMS Enterprise in Adriatic Exercise

9 March 2018
HMS Enterprise’s sea boat prepares to throttle up and play the bad guy during an exercise with one of the smallest navies in Europe.

The survey ship, which is leading a task group of NATO minehunters around the Mediterranean region, currently focusing on the western seaboard of the Adriatic.

In company with Turkey’s TCG Akcay and Spain’s ESP Segura, the Plymouth-based vessel headed to Bar, Montenegro’s principal port and naval base.

There the NATO force laid on a SURFEX – not Beach Boys and boards, but a SURFace EXercise; could the survey vessel and her ‘flock’ evade a fast-moving attack craft, played by one of Enterprise’s RIBs?

The workout was observed by several Montenegrin officers – some on Enterprise, others on the minehunters; the latter were not merely expected to keep the RIB at bay, but also continue their day jobs of scouring the depths for mines.

The waters around Bar have not been surveyed by a modern British ship…until now, as Enterprise turned to her impressive suite of scanners, and also lowered her sound velocity dip to record the temperature of the Adriatic at various depths.

Montenegro ranks 164th of nations with a population of 642,000 – bigger than Glasgow, smaller than Leeds – and an area slightly smaller than Yorkshire.

After the usual formalities in Bar with the Montenegrin authorities – at the core of their Navy are a couple of small frigates and two fast patrol boats, all dating back to the days when the country was part of Yugoslavia – the force sailed through bad weather or 120 miles to Vlore.

It’s the second time the group has stopped off at Albania’s main naval base and while as flagship Enterprise was left to conduct the formalities, the crew of the Akcay laid on more relaxed entertainment: an evening of traditional Turkish food/dancing aboard their ship.

When the ships leave Vlore they’ll conduct a SCREENEX – screening exercise, with the minehunters expected to ‘screen’ (look out for/defend against) attacks from specific directions to safeguard their flagship.

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