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HMS Northumberland ready for Christmas after busy 2023

HMS Northumberland has had a busy 2023 working in the North Atlantic and Arctic Circle alongside NATO allies and partners.
21 December 2023
One of the Royal Navy’s busiest frigates of the year will continue to be ready for action over Christmas, with the ship’s company on call to deploy at short notice.

Frigate HMS Northumberland has spent 2023 working alongside a number of allies and fellow Royal Navy warships in the North Atlantic, Arctic Circle and waters in surrounding regions.

The ship is held at readiness to deploy to UK waters when needed but until then, her sailors are able to enjoy some time over Christmas at home with their families and loved ones. Held at short notice, they have been able to have a brief pause in operations before they head back to the ship in the new year.

Northumberland’s Commanding Officer, Commander Will Edwards-Bannon said: “I have once again been humbled by the cheerfulness and selfless commitment that this ship’s company has demonstrated time and again in 2023.

“As we look forward to the challenges ahead of us in the new year, all of us in Northumberland can reflect on the past year with pride in what we achieved for the nation and gratitude for the shipmates we have served alongside.” 

HMS Northumberland has been on operations throughout 2023, protecting the UK’s interests in the North Atlantic and Arctic Circle.

Her skills in anti-submarine warfare saw her working with allies to hunt and monitor submarines and protect critical underwater infrastructure such as pipelines and cables. Countering threats below the waves successfully and with professionalism directly contributed to her winning the Surface Flotilla’s Underwater Warfare Trophy for 2023.

Not only charged with defending the North Atlantic against sub-surface threats, the frigate was also tasked with countering potentially hostile nations’ warships across NATO’s Northern Flank.

In April, she conducted a co-ordinated fleet escort operation alongside Type 45 destroyer HMS Defender, fellow frigate HMS Kent and patrol ship HMS Severn to shadow two Russian destroyers as they sailed near UK waters.

Shortly afterwards, Northumberland led a contingent of Royal Navy ships into the Arctic Circle, experiencing 24 hours of daylight. Northumberland, Defender and Royal Fleet Auxiliary tanker RFA Tideforce, alongside their Norwegian hosts, integrated into the USS Gerald R Ford Carrier Strike Group for the carrier’s maiden deployment to the region.

I have once again been humbled by the cheerfulness and selfless commitment that this ship’s company has demonstrated time and again in 2023.

Northumberland’s Commanding Officer, Commander Will Edwards-Bannon

She then led a multi-national task group on operations in the High North for the second year in a row, being joined by Norwegian frigate HNoMS Otto Sverdrup and US destroyer USS Thomas Hudner. 

During this mission, the UK and Norwegian ships enjoyed the opportunity to exchange personnel with each other to gain experience in how each respective navy operates on a day-to-day basis and to forge close relationships with important allies.

The theme of exchange was further reinforced with Thomas Hudner’s Sea Hawk helicopter operating from the flight decks of both Northumberland and Tideforce.

But it wasn’t just at sea the ship carried out important relationship work with key allies. She visited a number of nations including Denmark, Iceland and Norway – the last of which she played her part in celebrating the coronation of King Charles III in Reykjavik.

Her ship’s company supported the British Embassy’s coronation events and also held its own ‘street party’ on board, welcoming representatives from eleven different NATO nations.

But the ship also worked hard to improve the lived experience on board with Northumberland’s resilient crew consistently rising to meet every challenge of 2023.

Some of the ship’s most junior sailors have organised whole-ship celebrations for International Women’s Day and an LGBTQ+ Pride event while deployed, while others have organised raffles, flight deck sports and a unique ‘submarine racing’ night to ensure our sailors enjoyed their down-time between missions.

Sustaining Northumberland through this year of high tempo missions in the unforgiving operating environments of the North Atlantic and Arctic Circle has required an exceptional effort from all on board.

The burden of achieving this however has inevitably fallen especially heavily on the frigate’s Marine Engineering Department. As such, the award of a Defence Equipment and Support (DE&S) RENOWN Availability Award to the Marine Engineering Department’s Senior Leadership Team was particularly well-deserved.

HMS Northumberland remains on duty if needed over Christmas alongside thousands of other men and women across all services of the Royal Navy who are currently deployed or on call, both in the UK and overseas.

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