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HMS Kent’s journey east to the Pacific Ocean

HMS Kent conducts a replenishment-at-sea with RFA Fort Victoria. Picture: LPhot Dan Rosenbaum
19 August 2021
Frigate HMS Kent is looking ahead to the next stage of her Carrier Strike Group deployment following a busy 10,500 nautical mile transit from the Mediterranean to the Pacific Ocean.

The Portsmouth-based ship has recently spent time alongside in Guam – her first port visit since leaving Greece last month.

The rest period follows a hectic few weeks at sea in which the ship sailed through the Suez Canal, Red Sea, Indian Ocean, Strait of Malacca and into the western Pacific Ocean. Along the way, they exercised with allied navies and supported HMS Queen Elizabeth as the aircraft carrier led the task group east.

In the Bay of Bengal, she joined Indian ships including destroyer INS Ranvir, frigate INS Satpura, corvettes INS Kavaratti and INS Kulish, as well as replenishment tanker INS Shakti for a variety of air, surface and sub-surface training.

Then Kent passed through the Strait of Malacca and conducted manoeuvres with Royal Malaysian Navy frigates KS Lekiu and KS Jabat. Finally, in the Singapore Strait, the Republic of Singapore Navy landing platform dock RSS Endurance, frigate RSS Intrepid and corvette RSS Unity conducted further manoeuvres with the task group.

Kent’s ability to stay at sea for long periods of time comes down to the Carrier Strike Group’s Royal Fleet Auxiliary tankers and support ships. RFA Tidespring and RFA Fort Victoria ensure the ships get essential supplies and stores from fuel to food to mail with replenishment-at-seas.

Over the course of July, Kent has taken more than 900 cubic metres of fuel from both RFA ships. She’s conducted two stores transfers with Fort Vic where pallets of stores are sent across a span wire from ship to ship, and an 820 Naval Air Squadron Merlin helicopter delivered fresh produce and the ever-welcome mail from home.

A lot of preparation and, at times, dynamic problem-solving is required to ensure we can remain at sea and ready to deliver operational effect

Deputy Logistics Officer, Lieutenant Ollie Tribe

Deputy Logistics Officer, Lieutenant Ollie Tribe said: “A lot of preparation and, at times, dynamic problem-solving is required to ensure we can remain at sea and ready to deliver operational effect, especially for a deployment of this magnitude.

“Receiving food, fuel, medical supplies, engineering stores, personnel movements and much more; all of which are essential and need careful coordination. It is logistics that allows us to sustain operations anywhere in the world.”

Like Kent, many of the ships of the Carrier Strike Group spent some time alongside in Guam for some rest and recuperation.

The journey to Guam gave HMS Queen Elizabeth’s air wing of British and American F-35 strike fighters to prove their ability to conduct a high tempo of flight operations across the open ocean.

Captain James Blackmore, Commander of the Carrier Air Group, said: “The Indian Ocean provided the first opportunity for HMS Queen Elizabeth to conduct blue water carrier operations.

“The ability to launch, recover and sustain flying at distance from land is demanding. For the pilot, there is no option to divert to friendly airfields: the only place they can land is back on the carrier.

“Conducting these operations, day and night, for weeks at a time, is testament to the skill of the aircrew, the competency of the Strike Group and our confidence in the reliability of our aircraft.

“Few other navies can do this, particularly while simultaneously operating helicopters and replenishing at sea. It gives the Royal Navy the ability to operate at a time and place of our choosing, offering true flexibility and freedom of manoeuvre.”

The Carrier Strike Group has now begun a programme of exercises with key regional partners including the United States, Japan and the Republic of Korea.

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