10 Mar 23. HMS Duncan exercises with French carrier in the Mediterranean. Royal Navy warship HMS Duncan has put French aircraft carrier FS Charles de Gaulle through her paces as she played the “enemy” in a series of exercises in the Mediterranean.
Type 45 destroyer HMS Duncan was joined by ships from NATO nations to test the French carrier and her strike group’s ability to handle a range of threats.
HMS Duncan headed to the western Mediterranean for Exercise Orion with ships from France, Spain, the United States and Italy who acted as forces fighting against the Charles de Gaulle Carrier Strike Group and a French amphibious task group.
The French-led exercise saw 7,000 personnel, warships, submarines, fighter jets and land forces carry out scenarios they could one day face in conflict – below the waves, on the waves and above the waves, as well as land and air.
HMS Duncan’s participation in the exercise comes as the UK and France have committed to working closer together on carrier operations.
During a visit between Prime Minister Rishi Sunak and French President Emmanuel Macron yesterday (10 March), it was agreed the two nations will explore opportunities to demonstrate the sequencing of more persistent European carrier strike group presence in the Indo-Pacific.
This will see the co-ordination of regular deployments between France’s Charles de Gaulle aircraft carrier and the Royal Navy’s carriers HMS Queen Elizabeth and HMS Prince of Wales.
During Exercise Orion, it was HMS Duncan’s job as a specialist in air defence to disrupt the French task group operations, dealing with a challenging adversary and heavy seas in equal measure. To add to the complexity, a team from the Royal Navy’s Fleet Operational Standards and Training (FOST) was also embarked to deliver advanced warfare training.
It gave Duncan the chance to test her sensors and ability to create a picture of the surrounding area, covering hundreds of miles as she sought out the French task groups while remaining undetected.
“The scale of this exercise provided a real challenge for the team, requiring us to work effectively with our allies and react quickly to an elusive but highly-trained and capable opponent,” said Lieutenant Commander Will Durbin, the ship’s Senior Warfare Officer.
Preparation for the exercise started a few weeks ago, aided by Duncan’s French Principal Warfare Officer Lieutenant de Vaisseau Mercury, who provided a crucial link with the task force command team in FS Chevalier Paul.
On arrival in Toulon, the ship met up with her task group team– French ship FS Chevalier Paul, Italian ship IS Luigi Rizzo and later US Navy ship USS Nitze.
Ships’ tours allowed the crews to socialise with their opposite numbers then warfare drills at sea enabled the task force to understand its strengths and weaknesses. The ability to work together proved crucial to the mission, with simulated attacks soon coming from the Rafales fighter jets of the Charles de Gaulle and the missiles of her escorts.
This is the first major exercise HMS Duncan has been involved in since a major refit and it made for a challenging and rewarding experience for many of the ship’s company. They enjoyed putting their skills developed during Basic Operational Sea Training into a realistic scenario.
Engineer technician Tom Hughes said: “Doing defence watches for the first time was great preparation for if we had to do it for real when we deploy.”
LSC Clarke added: “The past two weeks have afforded HMS Duncan a fantastic opportunity to prove our ability to operate and sustain at reach, integrate with our NATO allies and conduct logistics support from a task group perspective.
“Not only this but it has allowed us to strengthen our professional relationships that we will draw upon in the future and develop friendships with our French and Italian colleagues that will endure beyond the exercise.”
Having proven her ability to work with a multinational task force and conduct sustained warfare operations, HMS Duncan headed back to the UK before preparing to deploy again soon.
06 Mar 23. Multinational naval exercise Cutlass Express 23 begins in Djibouti. The exercise will boost collective maritime law enforcement capacity in the Western Indian Ocean region. Naval forces and organisations from across 14 nations have officially started the US Naval Forces Africa (NAVAF) led multilateral maritime exercise Cutlass Express 2023 (CE23). An opening ceremony to mark the beginning of CE23 was held at Coast Guard Training Center in Djibouti on 5 March.
Participating nations include the US, the UK, France, Canada, Djibouti, Mauritius, Comoros, Greece, Mozambique, Seychelles, Georgia, Kenya, Madagascar and Tanzania.
Sponsored by the US Africa Command, CE23 provides an opportunity to boost interoperability between the US, African and international partner nations, while simultaneously enabling them to address their common transnational maritime concerns.
It aims to enhance collective maritime law enforcement capacity as well as bolster national and regional security in the Western Indian Ocean region.
The exercise is taking place in and around Djibouti, Kenya and Mauritius. Besides, this iteration will feature a series of shore-based and at-sea training activities off the eastern coast of Africa.
CE23 will be linked together with Naval Forces Central Command’s (NAVCENT) International Maritime Exercise, which is currently underway.
NAVCENT vice commander rear admiral Robert Nowakowski said: “Security in East Africa, the Indian Ocean and in Africa as a whole, matters for global stability.
“By deterring piracy, preventing illicit trafficking, and stopping illegal fishing, we are making the world safer. By working together, we can address these challenges in a way that no single nation can on its own.”
CE23 will focus on improving maritime interdiction, maritime domain awareness, information sharing with Maritime Operation Centers and counter-proliferation interdiction to counter illicit maritime instances to strengthen East Africa’s safety and security.
All the participating forces will undertake exercises to deter illegal, unreported, unregulated (IUU) fishing, illicit trafficking and oil bunkering activities abiding by the Jeddah Amendment to the Djibouti Code of Conduct implemented in 2017. (Source: naval-technology.com)