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What Lurks Beneath?

HMS Ocean watches over HMS Talent
HMS Talent heads through the Red Sea
Merlin sets off from HMS Ocean

What Lurks Beneath? Taurus 09 Warships Hunt Submarines In The Arabian Sea

Deep down in the depths of the Arabian Sea, Plymouth-based submarine HMS Talent lurks silently, evading for the moment, the probing eyes of the Merlin Maritime Patrol Helicopters and warships prowling above.

While Phase One of the deployment focussed primarily on amphibious operations, sending troops and equipment ashore into a land environment, Phase Two has seen the Task Group split, with most of the units taking part in the current Exercise BLUE TOREADOR during which they will hone their skills in underwater warfare. This will build on the submarine warfare skills practiced during Phase One where HMS Talent integrated into the Task Group, conducting beach reconnaissance for the amphibious landings, as well as detecting other shipping, building the surface and sub-surface picture.

The Merlins from 820 Naval Air Squadron based at RNAS Culdrose will fly from HMS Ocean, using their powerful sonar to hunt down the submarine. Meanwhile, Type 23 frigates HMS Somerset and HMS Portland will circle above, armed with their active sonar and Stingray anti-submarine torpedoes to search out and ‘destroy’ the ‘enemy’. United States Navy Guided Missile Destroyer USS Mitscher and RFA Wave Ruler will also support the exercise which lasts until April 25th.

Speaking as Exercise BLUE TOREADOR got underway, Commanding Officer of 820 Naval Air Squadron, Commander Jason Phillips said:

“While the spotlight is rightly on current operations in Afghanistan and Iraq, the Royal Navy must still work hard to maintain its ability to control the sea. This extended opportunity for the Merlin helicopters of 820 Squadron operating embarked in HMS Ocean to work with HMS Talent has allowed us to refresh our skills in finding and fighting submarines in different waters away from the UK. The Merlin is a world-beating anti-submarine helicopter and training such as this means that my aircrew are able to practise using it to full effect.”

Commanding Officer of HMS Talent, Commander Simon Asquith added:

“As the next phase of the Taurus 09 deployment, Exercise BLUE TOREADOR will provide many interesting opportunities for HMS Talent. Not least, it will allow us to hone our attack and evasion skills operating against multiple air and surface units. As well as helping Talent’s operational capability we will be able to offer a worthy opponent to our surface and air colleagues who will be working hard to regenerate their Anti-submarine Warfare capability. For Talent, the highlight of BLUE TOREADOR will be the planned ‘underwater look’ on HMS Portland.  This will allow me to push my team hard as I take the submarine underneath the Type 23 Frigate at a range of only a few meters in order to practice gathering intelligence on her hull and propulsion systems”.

Elsewhere in the Task Group, HMS Bulwark has begun her transit to Bangladesh where she will be joined by RFA Wave Ruler to conduct Exercise SHOMODRO TORONGO, with Royal Marines being inserted into the riverine environment – the first such interaction with the Bangladeshi Navy in more than a decade.