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HMS Portland puts would-be submarine captains through their paces

28 March 2023
HMS Portland put would-be Norwegian submarine captains through their paces during exercises in the waters around Bergen.

The Norwegian Submarine Command Course is the equivalent of the punishing ‘Perisher’ course – which every Royal Navy submarine commander must go through before becoming qualified for front-line duties.

The specialist submarine hunting frigate played the role of ‘adversary’ alongside fellow warships from Poland, Germany and Norway, making life as difficult as possible for the future captains.

HMS Portland’s Commanding Officer, Commander Ed Moss-Ward, said: “Anti-submarine warfare is an area of long-standing co-operation with our allies. 

“Arctic Dolphin has demonstrated the interoperability of UK forces with NATO partners, and the collective capability to maintain our operational advantage in the North Atlantic and the High North.”

Each day included two phases of activity. By day, the ships operated in close proximity to the submarines, opening and closing their position at different speeds and on different courses to challenge the student captains’ ability to maintain the safety of the submarine under the supervision of the lead examiner, ominously known as ‘teacher’.
By night, in open water, the student captains faced the stern test of attempting to avoid detection and evade a combined force of ships and specialist anti-submarine aircraft, including the Merlin Mk 2 embarked in Portland and P-8A Orion maritime patrol aircraft from the RAF operating from the UK mainland.
The UK and Norway have a long-standing relationship of military co-operation. The Royal Navy and Royal Marines regularly exercise in the northern regions of the country, maintaining the specialist skills to operate in cold weather and Arctic conditions. 

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