Three of the Royal Navy’s fast patrol boats have pushed the boundaries of endurance while working with HMS Albion and NATO allies and partners in the Baltic Sea.
The Baltic mission comes off the back of a busy time in Norway, where the P2000 patrol boats – some of the smallest vessels in the Royal Navy from the Portsmouth-based Coastal Forces Squadron – operated in the Arctic Circle for the first time in their 35-year career.
They followed that up by working with Wildcat helicopters and Norwegian missile craft in the confined waters around Bergen to test two new air-to-surface missile systems.
Now, three of the boats – HMS Charger, HMS Explorer and HMS Trumpeter – attached on to Exercise Aurora, Sweden’s largest national defense exercise for more than 25 years.
The three ships worked with amphibious flagship HMS Albion, and her Royal Marines landing craft, and ships from Germany, Latvia, Lithuania and Estonia to see how they could refuel and resupply at sea – without the need to come into port.
It ultimately increases the boats’ time on operations – where they are needed most – and proved successful as the trio worked NATO and Joint Expeditionary Force allies on amphibious activity, maritime security and task group operations.
They supported reconnaissance teams, carried out intelligence-gathering operations and completed sustainment and replenishment work.
Lieutenant John Patterson, Commanding HMS Charger, said: “Whilst it is always great to deepen our ability to work with allies and demonstrate NATO resolve in an increasingly contested operating area, Exercise Aurora was also hugely beneficial from a Coastal Forces Squadron perspective.
“It afforded the opportunity to innovate and experiment, as the Squadron looks for new ways to work with different units and sustain ourselves at sea.
“This included refueling via landing craft under way, conducting personnel and stores transfers with Albion and looking for new methods of refueling with HMS Albion also.
“Everyone on the squadron hopes that such cooperation paves the way for future development, as the CFS looks to near future, with more P2000s taking part in the forthcoming Baltops 23 exercise, but also to opportunities, exercises and operations further forward.”
The boats operate with a core ship’s company of just five sailors and spend the bulk of their time in home waters, patrolling and safeguarding the UK coastline and helping to train crews of larger warships such as in the art of fending off fast-attack craft.