“Last Call” (1965) with HMS Bulwark and the Far East Fleet on Exercise Dark Night

Feature length documentary (61 minutes) demonstrating a Royal Navy and Royal Marines exercise in the Far East. Filmed during 1964/65 and based on Exercise ‘Dark Night.’

With 40 Commando, 42 Commando, and 845 NAS aboard the commando carrier HMS Bulwark (R08). The “Rusty B” was deployed East of Suez with the Royal Navy’s Far East Fleet throughout the 1960s and served during the Konfrontasi with Indonesia.

Also features strike carriers HMS Victorious (R38), HMS Eagle (R05), and the Australian aircraft carrier HMAS Melbourne (R21). Aircraft include the De Havilland Sea Vixen and the Blackburn Buccaneer.

Also the (new for 1964/5) County-class guided missile destroyers HMS Kent (D12) and HMS London (D16). Additional escorts include Battle-class destroyers HMS Barrosa (D68) and HMS Corruna (D97), C-class destroyer HMS Caesar (D07), Type 61 aircraft direction frigate HMS Lincoln (F99), Australian destroyer escort HMAS Derwent (DE49), New Zealand frigate HMNZS Otago (F111), and Type 15 frigate HMS Zest (F102).

Ships of the Royal Fleet Auxiliary include the replenishment oilers RFA Tidepool (A76), RFA Tidesurge (A98), and RFA Bayleaf (A79).

Med Patrol (1971)

‘Med Patrol’ features aircraft carrier HMS Ark Royal (R09), Leander class frigate HMS Galatea (F81), combat stores ship RFA Lyness (A339) and fast fleet tanker RFA Olna (A123).

Royal Navy Films (YouTube channel)

Please visit the Royal Navy Films YouTube channel. It is a collection of Royal Navy instructional films, documentaries, recruitment ads, and miscellaneous bits & pieces.

Here is a sample: Action Navy (1975), Launch & Recover (1960), and Sam Pepys Joins the Navy (1941). There are more at the YouTube channel.

Royal Navy’s newest helicopter conducts sea trials with RFA Argus

RFA Argus (A135) serves in her principal rôle as Primary Casualty Receiving Ship (PCRS). Her secondary rôle is as an Aviation Training vessel, and in this capacity she is currently conducting trials with the the Lynx Wildcat helicopters of 700W Naval Air Squadron.

Navy Wildcat joins RFA Argus at sea for trials

The Navy’s next-generation helicopter is undergoing five weeks of key trials at sea to prepare it for front-line service in just 15 months time.

A special trials version of Wildcat – replacement for the trusty Lynx which has been in service since the 1970s – has joined aviation training/casualty treatment ship RFA Argus to gather crucial data to allow the helicopter fly from large Royal Navy warships.

Wildcat will spend the bulk of its time operating from Royal Navy frigates and destroyers – just like its predecessor.

But it will also be expected to fly on and off the flight deck of larger vessels: helicopter and aircraft carriers such as HMS Ocean and Queen Elizabeth, assault ships such as HMS Bulwark, and Argus herself.

The characteristics of these bigger ships – such as the wind speed across the deck and the vessel’s motion – are entirely different, so trailblazers must set the limits at which ship and helicopter can safely operate.

Which is exactly what Argus and her trials version of Wildcat – equipped with extensive additional sensors and instrumentation – is doing for the next month in the Western Approaches and Irish Sea.

A 39-strong test team – a mix of military and civilian personnel from the helicopter’s manufacturer AgustaWestland, the Rotary Wing Test and Evaluation Squadron Boscombe Down, 700W Naval Air Squadron from RNAS Yeovilton (which is helping to introduce Wildcat to front-line service) and the Lynx Project Team – have joined Argus for the trials.

Navy Wildcat joins RFA Argus at sea for trials.

Thanks to its role as an aviation training ship over the past 30 years, Argus is well used to such trials – and the information gathered can be extrapolated to other large ships and even other aircraft types.

“The trial is a huge team effort – test pilots from AgustaWestland and from Boscombe Down are sharing the flying and assessing the degree of difficulty for each deck landing and take-off,” explains Lt Cdr Rob Dowdell, the lead test pilot the from Rotary Wing Test and Evaluation Squadron.

“Maintainers from 700W squadron are spreading and folding the Wildcat and acting as refuelling and lashing numbers, Argus’ aircraft handlers and the ship bridge and Flying Control team are providing the required deck conditions under the direction of civilian experts from QinetiQ at Boscombe Down.”

Wildcat landing on RFA Argus.

After flying, engineers from AgustaWestland are servicing the Wildcat, checking the instrumentation and preparing it for the next day’s sorties, while the firm’s stress experts are ensuring no design limitations are being encroached by analysing the masses of data collected by the trials equipment fitted to the helicopter.

Scientists from QinetiQ have also provided instruments to record the ship’s motion and wind conditions, with the data analysed by the team to ensure the tests are safe.

At the same time the ship’s company were gathering their own data, information and tips on aircraft movements and ground power supplies.

“The embarkation of the Wildcat has given the ship’s company a chance to experience the future of Naval aviation at first hand – and also to test the ships’ aviation facilities to ensure they are ‘future-proof’,” said Lt Cdr Mo Morris, the Argus’ Senior Naval Officer.

Lt Cdr Dowdell added: “The ship’s crew have provided all the essential support to allow Argus to be deployed from anywhere from north of Scotland to the Canary Isles to ensure the correct meteorological conditions are achieved.

“Finding the right weather for testing is crucial with the perfect mix of wind speed, temperature, air pressure and sea state being critical to gathering the right quality data that will allow future global Wildcat deployments.”

The trials are due to finish on November 7, after which a comprehensive report will be compiled documenting all the new limitations and lessons learned.

The Navy’s next-generation helicopter is undergoing five weeks of key trials at sea to prepare it for front-line service in just 15 months time.


HMS Illustrious, RFA Fort Victoria, RFA Fort Austin conduct RAS during Cougar ’13

Three Royal Navy ships take part in a Replenishment at Sea or RAS. From left RFA Fort Austin, RFA Fort Victoria and HMS Illustrious are pictured transferring stores and fuel. Photographer: PO(Phot) Ray Jones.

VIDEO: Frigate (1973)

New Heavy Replenishment at Sea (HRAS) Rig at HMS Raleigh

Sneak peek of full article that will be in November’s Navy News.

The New Heavy Replenishment at Sea (HRAS) Rig at HMS Raleigh, currently undergoing trials with Rolls Royce.

HRAS rig. (Image Dave Sheffield/ HMS RALEIGH)

A container begins its 40-second journey across 55 metres of ‘sea’ to a mock up of the reception area on HMS Queen Elizabeth.

The facility will be used to train RFA, RN and foreign navies in the art of replenishment as well as the fundamentals of seamanship.

HMS Westminster conducts ASWEX with USS Dallas

The Royal Navy’s Response Task Force Group was established following the 2010 Strategic Defence and Security Review. The RFTG serves as Britain’s high-readiness amphibious task force and provides a scalable force able to deploy worldwide to meet crises.

HMS Westminster in hunt for USS Dallas

Royal Navy warship HMS Westminster currently on deployment has been putting her submarine hunting skills to the test with a combined UK and US Naval Anti-Submarine Warfare exercise in the Gulf of Oman.

The Periscope of the USS Dallas breaches the surface as HMS Illustrious sails past in the morning haze. Image by LA(Phot) Dan Rosenbaum.

HMS Westminster is part of the UK’s Response Force Task Group (RFTG) currently on the Royal Navy’s annual Cougar deployment.

HMS Illustrious, RFA Fort Victoria, RFA Fort Austin, USS Bulkeley and the American Los Angeles Class Submarine USS Dallas also took part in the exercise.

The aims of the exercise is to develop maritime interoperability by exercising Anti-Submarine Warfare tactics with US allies in the challenging sonar environment of the warm and shallow waters of the Gulf region.

The exercise was broken down into three phases. The ships and submarines initially tested acoustic and non-acoustics sensor performance against known positions, gaining useful real life data for the region.

The second phase relied on the ships escorting HMS Illustrious as the Mission Essential Unit (MEU) along a passage whilst evading detection and simulated torpedo attacks by USS Dallas.

Able Seaman Warfare Specialist Sam Kirk monitors the Underwater Warfare Desk during a CASEX with the US Navy. Image by LA(Phot) Dan Rosenbaum.

In the final phase USS Dallas tried to locate and destroy RFA Fort Austin as the MEU, in a holding box which simulated an anchorage, as the UK and US naval ships provided protection.

Additional helicopter support to the ships was ably provided by the Anti-Submarine sonar dipping Merlins embarked in HMS Illustrious and USS Bulkeley’s Seahawk, with Westminster’s Mark 8 Lynx helicopter providing an additional surface search and weapon carrying capability.

Images shows HMS Illustrious, HMS Westminster and USS Bulkeley sailing in arrow head formation during an exercise in the Indian Ocean. Image by LA(Phot) Dan Rosenbaum.

As well as taking turns to practise submarine hunting, the sailors from all ships and the submarine were put through their paces.

One of Westminster’s Anti-Submarine Warfare specialists, Petty Officer Underwater Warfare ‘George’ Linehan said:

“This was an excellent opportunity to work with our close allies in Anti-Submarine Warfare.

“The Royal Navy has again demonstrated how effective a T23 Frigate can be in a multi-national task group”.

Aside from this Anti-Submarine exercise, HMS Westminster has had a busy period since leaving the Red Sea, including Replenishments at Sea (RAS) with the USS Artic and also a rare dual RAS with HMS Illustrious and RFA Fort Victoria.

Image shows HMS Illustrious conducting a RAS with RFA Fort Victoria. Image by LA(Phot) Dan Rosenbaum.

HMS Westminster’s Commanding Officer Hugh Beard said:

“It has been a busy period for Westminster since leaving the Suez Canal, with invaluable training and cooperation with our key allies in the region.

“We are now looking forward to contributing to the wider maritime security in the Indian Ocean and the Gulf as part of our ongoing mission.”

HMS Westminster is currently conducting counter-terrorism and counter-narcotics patrols in the Gulf region and returns to the UK in 2014.

Images shows HMS Illustrious, HMS Westminster and USS Bulkeley sailing in arrow head formation during a PHOTEX in the Indian Ocean. Image by LA(Phot) Dan Rosenbaum.

The Cougar 13 deployment will operate in the Mediterranean, Red Sea, Arabian Gulf, and Horn of Africa. It involves exercising with partner nations, and will show the UK Armed Forces’ capacity to project an effective maritime component anywhere in the world as part of the Royal Navy’s Response Force Task Group, commanded by Commodore Paddy McAlpine OBE ADC Royal Navy.

The RFTG is the United Kingdom’s high readiness maritime force, comprising ships, submarines, aircraft and a landing force of Royal Marines, at short notice to act in response to any contingency tasking if required.


Royal Navy intercepts £9m/$14m marijuana in Caribbean

RFA Wave Knight is a Wave Knight-class fast fleet tanker of the Royal Fleet Auxiliary. The vessels are crewed by 72 RFA personnel and there is also provision for 26 Royal Navy personnel for helicopter, weapons systems and counter-narcotics operations. RFA Wave Knight is currently assigned to the Royal Navy’s standing Caribbean deployment, Atlantic Patrol Task (North).

Wave Knight scores £9m drugs bust intercepting Caribbean smugglers

Sailors from tanker RFA Wave Knight stopped an estimated £9m of cannabis reaching the UK after intercepting a suspicious fishing vessel in the Caribbean.

The ship recovered more than £6m of cannabis bales from the ocean as the drug-runners ditched them overboard, with upwards of £3m worth of narcotics ending up on the seabed.

This is what £6.4m of cannabis looks like – and it will never reach dealers, let alone the streets of the UK after being snared by RFA Wave Knight in the Caribbean.

Upwards of £3m of the drug is thought to be resting on the seabed after the tanker gave chase to a suspicious fishing vessel, whose crew began tossing their cargo overboard.

The tanker was on patrol when she came across Miss Tiffany – and sent her sea boat off in pursuit, armed with a US Coast Guard boarding team.

When the boat reached the fishing vessel, the drug runners began ditching weighted bales of marijuana before their craft was boarded by the Coast Guard Law Enforcement Detachment.

Thanks to the efforts of the crew of Wave Knight’s second sea boat, some 55 of those bales were recovered and brought aboard the auxiliary.

Miss Tiffany tries – and fails – to out run the tanker

In all a haul of some 1.2 tons (1276 Kg) with a street value of around £6.4m was recovered by Team Wave Knight with an estimated further 1,200lbs (540kg) of drugs sinking before the sailors could haul the bales out of the Caribbean.

Total disruption to the drug-runners: about £9m with seven crew of the Miss Tiffany arrested and their boat handed over to Jamaican authorities.

“The entire ships company – RFA civilians, US Law Enforcement Team and Royal Navy personnel alike – as well as HQ and prosecuting staff ashore – are delighted with the result,” said Capt Chris Clarke RFA, Wave Knight’s Commanding Officer.

“Once again the joint approach to counter narcotic operations has resulted in another successful take-down.”

It’s the fourth significant bust by British naval forces in the past couple of months.

The recovered drugs are hauled aboard Wave Knight

Lancaster bagged £100m cocaine and £700,000 cannabis, while Wave Knight intercepted a drug-smuggling go-fast in a joint effort with the Dutch.

Those successes were underlined by defence secretary Philip Hammond. “The work of the Royal Navy across the globe and in particular in the Caribbean on counter-narcotics operations is vital to protecting us here at home,” he said.

“This drugs bust follows recent successful interdiction and deterrence operations by HMS Lancaster and HMS Argyll in the Caribbean which all contribute to ensuring illegal drugs do not reach our streets. I congratulate the ship’s company for their actions in this operation.”

Wave Knight’s bust came under the banner of Operation Martillo, an effort by 15 nations to stop the movement of drugs from the Central and South American region by sea or air.


Royal Marines storm Albanian submarine base

The Response Force Task Group (RFTG) is Britain’s high-readiness amphibious task force, established following the 2012 SDSR. The Lead Commando Group (LCG) is drawn from 3 Commando Brigade and provides a scalable force able to deploy worldwide to meet crises.

Royal Marines launch amphibious raid on abandoned submarine base

An enemy position is destroyed by a simulated air attack during the Commando Assault onto Sazan Island. The training took place near to Vlore in Albania, as part of Exercise Albanian Lion 13. Photo by PO(Phot) Sean Clee

As dawn broke over an abandoned former Cold War submarine base a series of explosions announced the arrival of the Royal Marines as they began a full scale amphibious attack. As part of Exercise Albanian Lion, the Marines landed on the shores of Sazan island and, amid a scenario based around smugglers, social unrest and the rise of terrorist groups, the Commandos attacked the hostile nation from the sea by climbing cliff faces in darkness to surprise the enemy.

The personnel of 42 Commando, based in Plymouth, and part of the Lead Commando Group (LCG), are honing their skills for contingent operations – where they must be ready to react at a moment’s notice – as part of the Royal Navy deployment named Cougar 13.

Unbeknown to the ‘smugglers’ hiding out on the Albanian island, they had been observed for the last few days by the Royal Marines Surveillance Reconnaissance Squadron (SRS).

Once a picture had been built of the enemy locations the initial dawn attack was initiated by explosions which simulated bombs dropped from RAF Hawk Jets.

Troops from J, K & M companies, 42 Commando then started the ground assault of enemy stronghold locations, storming and surprising their enemy.

The attack, which lasted eleven hours, saw the commandos clear their way through a maze of tunnels and buildings gathering information for further operations over the next few days.

Royal Marines clearing buildings during a Commando Assault onto Sazan Island. The training took place near to Vlore in Albania, as part of Exercise Albanian Lion 13. Photo by PO(Phot) Sean Clee

Sazan Island, as well as being an old Soviet submarine base, used to be home to a chemical and biological weapons plant and there are more than 100 buildings and 5.7 square kilometres of trenches and bunkers.

The island now is uninhabited but there is a small manned naval base, used mainly to counter contraband routes between southern Italy and Albania.

A Royal Marine looks out for enemy during a Commando Assault onto Sazan Island. The training took place near to Vlore in Albania, as part of Exercise Albanian Lion 13. Photo by PO(Phot) Sean Clee

During the exercise the Troops were visited by Major General Xhemal Gjunkshi, Chief of Defence of the Armed forces of the Republic of Albania and Ambassador of the UK Mr Nicholas Cannon.

They were escorted around the vast training area by Deputy Commander of 3 Commando Brigade, Colonel Kevin Oliver.

Colonel Oliver said:

“We are delighted to be here with our NATO allies for the third year running. The facilities are some of the best training areas the task group has ever used.

“We are extremely grateful for the use of their facilities and for the chance to work alongside the Albanian forces sharing experiences and operations.”

The Commanding Officer of 42 Commando Royal Marines (far left) runs the Deputy Brigade Commander, 3 Commando Brigade (right), the British Ambassador to Albania (centre)and the Chief of Defence of the Armed Forces of Albania (left centre) through the Commando Assault onto Sazan Island. The training took place near to Vlore in Albania, as part of Exercise Albanian Lion 13. Photo by PO(Phot) Sean Clee

Over the subsequent 96 hours the Marines held further assaults onto positions 150km away as well as an evacuation with British embassy staff which saw British nationals safely extracted from a hostile environment.

As part of the Royal Navy’s Response Force Task Group, the LCG is projected from sea by Royal Navy warships into troublespots across the globe as dictated by government.

Lieutenant David Kirk, Troop Commander of 5 Troop, K Company, led the initial assault and said:

“Moving up through the valley was pretty challenging, you’ve got a lot of kit on and the heat even at night time is considerable.”

“Our part of the attack lasted about six hours and although challenging, all our aims were achieved.

“We knew it was going to be difficult before we started so we mentally prepared ourselves beforehand and just pushed on through.”

A Royal Marine GPMG gunner keeps a watchful eye out for enemy during a Commando Assault onto Sazan Island. The training took place near to Vlore in Albania, as part of Exercise Albanian Lion 13. Photo by PO(Phot) Sean Clee