Seven Archer Class P2000 ships from the Royal Navy’s 1st Patrol Boat Squadron (1PBS) have taken part in Exercise Baltic Operations (BALTOPS), alongside 43 other ships and 60 aircraft from 22 allied nations.
The exercise featured live fire training, anti-surface and anti-submarine warfare, mine warfare, air defence and for the first time, joint personnel recovery from the sea (the 1PBS ships playing a key role in this new addition to BALTOPS).
Lieutenant Duncan Napier, Commanding Officer of HMS Example said, “This exercise really demonstrated how adaptable and flexible the Archer class vessels of 1PBS can be, reacting to the real-time changes in the scenario, and truly proving we are small ships with a big impact.”
Primarily, the ships played the opposing force for most of the exercise, conducting a wide range of threat profiles against the different ships. These ranged from acting as belligerent fishing vessels to coordinated ‘swarm’ attacks, seeking to isolate and destroy any unit they could draw away from the main group.
Commander Mark Hammon, Commander 1PBS said, “This deployment of seven vessels to the Baltic sea once again displays the utility and the impact that these small vessels can have; they reach places that are not reachable by any other deployable vessel in the Royal Navy; they have created their own niche within the surface fleet.
"We continue to expand the range of their capabilities, deploying and sustaining operations at extended reach from their homeports.”
HMS Example, HMS Explorer, HMS Express, HMS Pursuer, HMS Puncher and HMS Dasher were split into two divisions, one being based on the Danish Island of Bornholm, the other based in Ustka, Poland. This split allowed the units to cover a much wider area, enabling an agile and dynamic response to any tasking given to the small ships.
Throughout the exercise they were constantly testing and evaluating the differing responses of units, and allowing units and task groups to trial individual self-protection methods.
Sub Lieutenant Dan Thomas, Officer of the Watch on HMS Example said, “It’s not often you get to lead a column of warships, within a 40-ship formation, particularly when you’re only 20m long yourself! It was a once in a lifetime opportunity!”
The P2000 ships deployed from various ports around the United Kingdom, including Faslane, Cardiff, Plymouth, Portsmouth, Ipswich, Newcastle and Hull.
Other Royal Navy ships deployed to BALTOPS were HMS Monmouth and HMS Ramsey.
This was the 46th iteration of the exercise, and was run by Strike Force NATO (STRIKFORNATO), from the 6th Fleet’s flagship, USS Mount Whitney.