Royal Navy Type 22 frigate HMS Chatham has conducted the last ever salvo firings of Bock 1 Sea Wolf missiles as part of training trials which involved a visit to her affiliated town of Chatham.
The ship had originally been due to fire just one test missile from each of her forward and aft launchers, but then the opportunity arose to conduct salvo firings where two missiles are fired simultaneously at the same target. The results were both impressive and spectacular, as Weapon Engineer Officer, Lieutenant Commander Chris Smith explained:
"This serial is about testing the capability of the whole firing system and there is no better assessment than a salvo firing. This is a rare opportunity and, despite the extra preparations involved, there was no way we were going to let this pass."
A high level test run was successfully conducted by the operations room team and this was followed by a simulated firing run with the target screaming in towards the ship at ultra-low level. Despite the trial being undertaken with a junior crew still undergoing training, both runs were successful at the first attempt.
It was then a case of firing live missiles and, as the target again hurtled towards the ship, the forward missile doors opened and two huge plumes of flames appeared as the operations room team gave the traditional Naval cry of 'birds away'.
The two missiles careered away from the ship, skimming the waves. The first then hit the target, simultaneously exploding and shredding the target to pieces and, such was the accuracy of the system, that the second missile, close behind, tracked the shrapnel down towards the sea and exploded when it hit the largest piece of the debris caused by the first missile. The firings were repeated at the other end of the ship with similar success.
The Commanding Officer, Commander Martin Connell, said:
"This was a great result for HMS Chatham. With a junior crew we have successfully completed two salvo firings at the first attempts. The textbook results show the keenness and professionalism of both my warfare and weapon engineering teams and have proven the capability of our equipment."
The Sea Wolf Block 2 missile is now in service with the Royal Navy's Type 22 and 23 fleets. HMS Chatham is now completing her war-fighting and humanitarian relief training in readiness to deploy anywhere in the world at short notice.