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Royal Navy and NATO have ‘never been closer’ as alliance marks 74th anniversary

4 April 2023
The relationship between the Royal Navy and NATO has ‘never been closer’ as the alliance marks 74 years since its inception today amid continued global instability.

British warships spent nearly 10,000 hours – 60 weeks – on NATO operations in 2022 and that pace has continued unabated in the first four months of 2023.

The Royal Navy is at the heart of galvanised NATO efforts as Russia’s unprovoked war in Ukraine continues, securing Europe’s crucial waterways and chokepoints for the prosperity of allies and partners.

“While the Royal Navy has always supported NATO maritime operations, since the illegal invasion of Ukraine by Russia over a year ago, we have worked even more closely with our NATO allies at sea,” said Deputy Assistant Chief of Staff at the Maritime Operations Centre in Northwood, Captain Steve Banfield.

“Collaboration between NATO and the RN has never been closer; in particular in the execution of coordinated Maritime Security operations and exercises in the Norwegian Sea, North Sea, Baltic and the Mediterranean.”

From the freezing Arctic and Baltic, to the endless grey of the North Atlantic and azure waters of the Mediterranean, Royal Navy warships, submarines and aircraft have operated side by side with allies and partners so far in 2023, supporting peace and prosperity in Europe.

Patrol ship HMS Mersey recently operated in the Baltic to ensure the security and stability of the region as part of the Joint Expeditionary Force, a multinational defence framework complementary to NATO which is committed to Euro-Atlantic security with the Baltic region as one of its focus areas.

Amphibious flagship HMS Albion, HMS Somerset and RFA Mounts Bay have just returned from the Arctic where they were at the heart of an allied task group working on Norwegian security and NATO’s ability to protect its northern flank. 

Elsewhere in the Arctic Circle, Royal Marines and Commando Helicopter Force operated alongside allies – sharpening extreme cold weather warfare skills and honing joint tactics and sharing expertise for flying operations and combat in the unforgiving environment.

The small patrol ships of the Coastal Forces Squadron remain in Northern Norway after large-scale exercises in the region’s fjords – taking on their most northerly deployment ever. 

In the Mediterranean, destroyer HMS Duncan worked closely with NATO ships from France, Spain, the United States and Italy, in an exercise designed to test the French carrier strike group – centred around FS Charles de Gaulle – against a range of threats.

During exercises in Estonia, Royal Navy cyber warfare experts fended off virtual attacks to ‘national infrastructure’ alongside NATO allies and with partners from across the globe.

Below the waves, HMS Audacious, one of the Royal Navy’s newest and most advanced nuclear attack submarine, carried out NATO security patrols in the Mediterranean.

Submarine hunting frigate HMS Portland has been on patrol with the alliance’s premier security task group in northern Europe, known as Standing NATO Maritime Task Group 1. 

Royal Navy assets are lined up to take part in key NATO exercises in the remaining months of 2023, from missile defence, security in the Baltic and anti-submarine warfare.

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