HMS Richmond Readied for Armed Forces Day

Ready for hundreds of visitors – indeed ready for anything is frigate HMS Richmond which completed the Navy’s sternest test in time for National Armed Forces Day Celebrations.

The Portsmouth-based warship is the largest piece of military hardware on display in Falmouth this weekend as the Cornish port hosts the principal UK event celebrating the deeds – and people – of the nation’s armed forces.

The Type 23 frigate arrived in the town yesterday, fresh from completing Operational Sea Training just up the coast off Plymouth where the 200 souls aboard have spent the past six weeks being thoroughly assessed.

Fleet Operations Standards and Training (FOST) deliver a world-renowned training package – benefitting not just Royal Navy ships, who cannot deploy without passing the assessment, but frequently warships of the UK’s NATO allies as well.

For more than half HMS Richmond’s ship’s company OST was a new experience, so the pressure was on for more experienced hands to guide them – and for the more junior sailors aboard to step up to the challenge.

So what could they expect? Over one and a half months, the training/assessment builds up from basic skill sets of small scale fire-fighting, flood management and ship manoeuvring, all the way through to full-scale war fighting, to ensure everyone is put through their paces individually and collectively.

Weapons and marine engineers focused on the ‘internal battle’, working together to ensure Richmond could still use her weapons and propulsion systems by fighting virtual fires, floods and dealing with battle damage.

Logisticians and medics directly assisted these efforts, but also conduct the crucial role of keeping everyone fed, watered and in top fighting condition.

In turn that allowed the warfare department to fight the ‘external battle’, keeping the ship defended and, when needed, enabling them to defeat the enemy.

For veterans of previous OST packages, training in 2023 has evolved vastly from what the first crew of Richmond would have experienced in the 1990s.

Long gone are the days of simply mimicking the assessors. “Coaching and mentoring are now used more effectively to help understand the best way to work collegiality to deliver joint collective training,” said Richmond’s Weapon Engineer Officer Lieutenant Commander Tony Lofts.

It paid off. By the time one of the RN’s most senior seagoing officers – Rear Admiral Rob Pedre, Commander United Kingdom Strike Forces – embarked on Richmond for her final day of assessment, full-on conflict in the Plymouth Exercise Area, he witnessed a well-honed team at the top of their game.

Richmond is the first ship in quite some time to complete all of her main assessed serials first time, “a fantastic achievement and a great reflection of the hard work which everyone onboard put in to ensure she is ready for future anti-submarine warfare operations,” said a delighted Commander Christopher L’Amie, the frigate’s Commanding Officer.