December 7, 2018 – Britain’s most advanced warship joined forces with her Indian counterpart when the two navies linked up in Goa.
Fresh from a £90m drugs bust in the Indian Ocean, HMS Dragon met the pride of the Indian Navy, state-of-the-art destroyer Kolkata, for the annual workout testing the two Commonwealth maritime powers.
Exercise Konkan takes its name from the stretch of coastline in western Indian which it typically takes place off (occasionally it’s staged in UK waters when Indian vessels visit Europe).
Both Dragon and Kolkata are chiefly designed to provide protection to the fleet against air attack (the Indian vessel can also strike at enemy ships and land targets with cruise missiles).
Before they struck out to sea together, the two destroyers met in Mormugao, Goa, to prepare.
Both ship’s crews gave the other an insight into what they and their ships are capable of, before the Indians demonstrated their prowess at basketball and their hospitality as the Brits enjoyed the sights, sounds and smells of Goa.
When the two ships knuckled down to Konkan 18, they found planners had laid on some serious challenges: real threats in the air from the Indian Naval Air Force, real threats beneath the waves posed by Indian submarines, with the test facing the two destroyers growing ever more demanding.
Two Dragons – deputy marine engineer officer Lieutenant ‘Bungy’ Williams and Officer of the Watch No.2 (one of several officers on the bridge responsible for the safe conduct of Dragon at sea) Lieutenant Oliver Barrett spent four days on the Indian warship.
“The pride the ship’s company on the Kolkata have in carrying out their duties to maximum effectiveness was clear to see and the professional standards we witnessed highlighted the similarities our navies share,” said Lieutenant Barrett.
“We cannot thank Capt Aditya Hara enough for the hospitality and warm welcome we received during our time on board, and we hope to experience plenty of opportunities to work alongside the Indian Navy in the future.”
Dragon’s Commanding Officer, Commander Michael Carter Quinn, said the week with the Indians was a rich and rewarding experience.
“With a rich heritage of shared endeavor, having the opportunity to bring HMS Dragon as the first Type 45 destroyer to visit India and work alongside the INS Kolkata, has been a huge honor,” he said.
“Our time alongside allowed my Dragons some time to ‘reset’ following their significant efforts in the successes so far on deployment and provided the foundations with INS Kolkata to make a success of what has been a varied and beneficial exercise.
“The time, effort and resources the Indian Navy have committed to this exercise shows their investment and desire to forge stronger ties with the Royal Navy and we sail from here having forged genuine friendships with our contemporaries aboard INS Kolkata.”
Having left Goa, Dragon has resumed her Gulf/Indian Ocean security patrol which will keep her away from her native Portsmouth until spring 2019.