The UK Royal Navy Type 23 frigate, HMS Northumberland used her multi-million pound Sea Ceptor missile system to down drones in a unique test off the northwest coast of Scotland.
The frigate was testing her powerful weapons system on the ranges around the Outer Hebrides in Installation Test Firing exercises.
The Plymouth-based ship’s missile system – fitted to all the Royal Navy’s Type 23s – can defend an area of 500 square miles and, in this latest drill, the ship’s company was tasked with taking down high-speed, sea skimming drones fired from one of the nearby islands.
It offered the chance for the Royal Navy’s latest missile system, and its team of operators and maintainers, to prove their worth.
“In my role on board I get to operate a wide variety of weapons, but firing a Sea Ceptor doesn’t come around all that often.” said weapons specialist, Chief Petty Officer Mark Lynch.
Sat in the missile director’s chair for the serial, CPO Lynch had previously missed out on the live firing on HMS Montrose, but this time he found himself at the helm operating the system. CPO Lynch’s quick reactions allowed Northumberland to successfully engage the sea skimming threat as it came in to range, splashing the target whilst it was still at arm’s length.
Northumberland joins a steadily growing group of Type 23 frigates to successfully conduct the Installation Test Firing (ITF) for the system. The ship has recently had a busy period regenerating from upkeep, and three extremely busy periods as the National Tasking unit. It meant the cancellation of the previous two firing opportunities, but following completion of the unit’s recent tasking escorting the Russian Udaloy class guided missile destroyer, Severomorsk, it was third time lucky.
During a calm and sunny day on the ranges, Northumberland found herself putting in to practise the firing preparations and drills honed during the months spent on Operational Sea Training. Behind the weapon engineering team delivering the missile was Chief Petty Officer Andrew “Boogie” Knights whose role it is to maintain the Sea Ceptor operating system and the magazine of Common Anti-Air Modular Missile (CAMM).
“Before joining Northumberland I was part of the Sea Ceptor acceptance team working at Abbey Wood. In this role I was heavily involved in the acceptance of the missile system in to the navy,” said CPO Knights. “To have now completed a successful firing on my own system is as exciting as it is rewarding; this is a definite career highlight.”