Royal Navy demonstrates powerful array of firepower
HMS Iron Duke alongside Gdynia, Poland with the French tanker FS Somme in the background
Two Royal Navy frigates have demonstrated their awesome spectrum of firepower capability with firings at separate ends of the country.
Portsmouth-based HMS Iron Duke blasted through five different weapon systems – her General Purpose Machine Guns (GPMGs), the Minigun, 30mm Cannon, 4.5” Medium Range Gun and the Seawolf missile system – in the English Channel.
And up in Cape Wrath, Scotland, Devonport-based HMS Somerset became the first ship to fire new infra-red illumination rounds which are designed to light up the battlefield for friendly forces wearing appropriate eyewear.
Commanding Officer of HMS Somerset Commander Michael Wood said: “These firings have pushed forward our capability to support marines and other land forces ashore.
Getting to do this in my last week onboard was a real thrill and a fantastic way to end a really enjoyable time in Iron Duke.
Chief Petty Officer Lowe
he continued, “Delivering devastating naval gunfire from our warships is just one facet of our contribution to the nation’s defences.”
HMS Somerset worked with spotters from 148 (Meiktila) Battery Royal Artillery whose job was to direct the ship’s fire accurately and safely on to a target at distances over 21 kilometres.
148 Battery is part of the Royal Marines’ 3 Commando Brigade, drawing personnel from the RN, RM and Army.
Over two days and nights the ship fired in excess of 100 rounds of 4.5in ammunition – with each shell weighing over 40kg.
The firing was watched by Keith Mayo from the MOD’s Defence Equipment and Support organisation.
He said: “This marks a significant milestone for the team who have worked tirelessly to bring the new ammunition into service, providing value and a capability that will make our troops more effective and ultimately save lives.”
Next it was the turn of HMS Iron Duke to rev up the tempo with all five weapons tested in just one day.
Starting in the morning with target tracking runs on the Seawolf missile system, the ship then moved into a gunnery shoot against an inflatable target, finishing with firing a Seawolf missile.
A spectacular and deadly sight – if you could catch a glimpse - Seawolf can strike a target at two-and-a-half times the speed of sound at a distance of up to six kilometres.
HMS Iron Duke’s Missile Director Petty Officer (Above Water Warfare) John ‘Arthur’ Lowe is in charge of the Seawolf system from the Operations Room and, as the Close Range Weapon Instructor, he oversaw the close range guns from the upper deck.
Recently selected for promotion to Chief Petty Officer, PO Lowe will leave the ship at the end of the week, with the successful firings a fitting send-off.
“Being in the seat as missile director is always a great experience for a live missile firing,” he said.
“Getting to do this in my last week onboard was a real thrill and a fantastic way to end a really enjoyable time in Iron Duke.”
Source: Royal Navy.