Sink the Duncan! That’s one of the tasks of international submarines during NATO’s biggest sub hunt of the year in the Mediterranean.
Target Duncan! Merlins try to protect destroyer during NATO sub exerciseBritain’s newest destroyer – and flagship of a task force of ships from across the alliance, aka Standing Group 2 – is one of the high-value targets boats will be looking to knock out during Dynamic Manta 18, NATO’s annual cat-and-mouse exercise played out of Sicily.
Built to shield an entire task group from air attack, Duncan has limited ability to hunt submarines.
Luckily, some 90 personnel from 814 and 829 Naval Air Squadrons and a pair of Merlin Mk2 helicopters, the world’s premier sub-hunting aircraft, have flown out to the Med for the 2018 iteration of the war game.
The Culdrose fliers provide the core of the rotary-wing hunting power – armed with depth charges or Sting Ray torpedoes for the kill when they’ve located their quarry.
“Our sailors study and work hard to develop their undersea abilities. Dynamic Manta will give our airborne, surface, and submarine teams a valuable chance to test themselves during complex scenarios
Rear Admiral Andrew Lennon, US Navy officer in charge of NATO’s submarine forces
In addition, there are seven other helicopters drawn from the militaries of the world and ten maritime patrol aircraft, operating out of Sigonella Air Base near Catania – and in the shadow of Mount Etna, which spectacularly erupted during the 2017 exercise.
In all, some 5,000 military personnel are taking part in the exercise, a good 300 of them Britons.
As well as anti-submarine warfare, there will also be surface attacks for the nine participating surface ships – from Belgium, France, Greece, Italy, Spain, Turkey, UK, and USA – to fend off.
“As anti-submarine-warfare includes all three dimensions, special attention needs to be placed upon the air – it’s important for aircrews from various NATO nations’ to come and train together in this truly challenging environment,” explained Greece’s Commodore Andreas Vettos, overseeing the aerial element of the exercise.
“I’m convinced that the benefit for all participating nations will be immense and will assist in preparing our aircrews for future tasks and operations.”
Dynamic Manta is mirrored by Dynamic Mongoose (NATO exercises are prefixed ‘Dynamic’, with ‘Ms’ standing for maritime) in the North Sea so that navies are proficient in anti-submarine warfare in cold and warmer waters (the sea temperature and especially layers and salinity in the oceans dramatically affects the ability to hunt down suspected boats.
“Our sailors study and work hard to develop their undersea abilities. Dynamic Manta will give our airborne, surface, and submarine teams a valuable chance to test themselves during complex scenarios,” said Rear Admiral Andrew Lennon, the American in charge of NATO’s submarine forces – and the man in charge of the exercise.
“The long list of ships, submarines, and aircraft participating clearly shows NATO's commitment to maritime training.”