HMS Forth Joins Exercise UNITAS off Rio de Janeiro
HMS Forth joined dozens of ships and aircraft from various nations in Brazil for the longest-running at-sea exercise.
Sailors on the patrol ship sailed into Rio de Janeiro for Exercise Unitas which is in its 63rd year.
The exercise coincided with the 200th year of the Brazilian Navy and as such, was hosted by the South American country.
Forth was among 20 ships, more than 20 aircraft and two submarines from 16 nations, including the United States, Spain, Uruguay, France and Chile.
Able Seaman Christine Skippen said: “My experience of Unitas as a Seaman Specialist has been very positive. It offered an unparalleled opportunity to practice skills not often used, such as flashing light and tactical communications, providing an excellent training opportunity for the whole department which has enhanced our abilities, both individually and as a team.
“On a wider level, I was proud to be part of the ship’s company for such a high-profile international exercise and to see my department and ship come together to deliver a performance worthy of our reputation.
“Personal highlights, as well as the tactical communications, were taking part in the sail-past, acting as helmsman whilst undergoing boarding exercises, and observing how other navies operate.”
Before the exercise got underway, the ship’s company was welcomed into Rio to help celebrate the bicentenary of the Brazilian Navy.
One of the first official engagements was a sail past of Copacabana Beach for the entire task group before some members of the crew joined other sailors for a football tournament. The final day saw Forth take part in a Fleet Review inspected by the President of Brazil Jair Bolsonaro.
Back at sea, and the patrol ship’s first responsibility of Exercise Unitas was the planning and execution of the task group’s gunnery serials and they even took the final ‘kill’ of a killer tomato – a floating target designed for gunnery practice at sea.
The training then moved onto boarding operations which HMS Forth conducted with her half-sister Brazilian Offshore Patrol Vessel BNS Amazonas.
Forth’s embarked Medical Officer Surgeon Lieutenant Talek Nightingale led a group of Officer Cadets from Britannia Royal Naval College as a crew of smugglers for the training with Brazilian marines conducting the boarding operation.
After this phase, Forth split off with a smaller group of patrol vessels to be the opposition forces to harass the main amphibious landings. The meant many complex warfare manoeuvres which the crew took in their stride.
The final role for Forth was to simulate being a fast attack craft where the ship exploited areas of fog in support of a “simulated attack” on the BNS Atlántico (formerly HMS Ocean).
After a successful time at sea for the crew, Forth went back alongside in Rio for some well-earned rest with the other crews and to see the sights.
Engineering Technician (ME) Jack Fryer said: “I loved working with other navies. I enjoyed the chance to represent the RN on a multinational level.”
Lieutenant William Morris, Operations Officer, added: “The exercise was a valuable opportunity for Forth’s Warfare Department to exercise in ways they never usually would – everyone from AB to Officer learned an enormous amount from operating with a multinational task group, and Forth stands ready to conduct future exercises to a similar high standard.”