The UK Royal Navy Type 23 frigate HMS Sutherland (F81) has completed her intense winter training in the Arctic Circle and is now heading for high-readiness tasking with NATO.
The Devonport-based frigate completed her participation in Norwegian-led Exercise Cold Response, during which the ‘Fighting Clan’ provided defence against submarines to the multinational task group but also conducted air defence and boarding training.
After a rare pause in Portsmouth, Sutherland is now heading to work with NATO’s Standing NATO Maritime Group One (SNMG1) – a task group made up of typically frigates and destroyers which patrols northern European waters to provide a reassuring presence.
“The Arctic environment set a number of challenges not just for the operations room, but for the engineers on board,” Weapon Engineer Officer Lieutenant Commander David Tinsley RN said.
“The weapons, marine and air engineering teams have had to contend with sub-zero temperatures and have stoically kept equipment at high-readiness, dealing with challenging issues when deployed at reach.
“This exercise has proved invaluable as we now look to integrate with the NATO SNMG1 group for the coming period.”
Sutherland worked closely with allies from Norway and the Netherlands during Cold Response, providing vital protecting to amphibious forces landing on Norway’s rugged coastline.
The Type 23 spent the majority of the exercises in a heightened state of readiness (State 2) and focused on her main specialism as anti-submarine warfare (ASW) ship.
There were also air defence exercises, during which Sutherland worked closely with HNoMS Thor Heyerdahl, a Fridtjof Nansen-class frigate of the Royal Norwegian Navy.
The embarked boarding team were tested, too. They were deployed on a mission to the KV Jarl, a Norwegian supply ship, where they proved their ability to board and search a vessel of interest.
Sutherland then sailed south to join the NATO task group, where she will remain on high-readiness to respond to crises in the region.