Minehunters draw their daggers in Omani exercis

Three of Britain’s five ships permanently based in the Gulf joined the Americans and French as guests of the sultanate for the 23rd iteration of Khunjar Hadd (‘Sharp Dagger’).

Minehunters draw their daggers in Omani exercisThe exercise tests the ability of the Omani Navy to work with warships from other navies which regularly operate in the region.

The RN and US Navy maintain a constant presence in Bahrain to keep the region’s sea lanes open, deter terrorism, clamp down on piracy and foster close relations with the nations and navies of the Gulf region.

Cardigan Bay acts as mother ship to all four Royal Navy minehunters in the Middle East.

Two of them – HMS Bangor and Ledbury – joined her for Khunjar Hadd, comprising one quarter of the international force mustered off the Omani coast.

The hosts threw their patrol ships Al Dhafirah, Al Muazzar and Al Bat’nah into the mix, alongside the French destroyer, two US Coast Guard patrol boats and two fast coastal protection ships for the four-day workout.

It is always fantastic to visit Oman, and even more of a thrill to have had the opportunity to exercise with our close partners, the Royal Navy of Oman

Lieutenant Commander David Armstrong

The exercise centred on a fictional scenario, taking place in the Gulf of Oman, in particular the waters off the capital of Muscat which had been ‘mined’ and needed to be rendered safe to allow shipping to get in and out.

Just for good measure, participants also faced threats in the air, threats on the sea, joint manoeuvres, helping vessels in distress, communications between navies who speak four different languages (Arabic, French, British and American English – and, yes, the latter is important; what is a ‘casualty’ in the US Navy is a ‘breakdown’ in the RN, for example).

“I would say the biggest take away is learning the capabilities of our coalition forces,” said Information Systems Technician 1st Class Lavashti Washington, communications officer on board fast patrol ship USS Hurricane. “Hopefully I’ll get to participate next year and take what we learned this year and build upon it to get even better.”

The exercise culminated with a simulated air attack on the entire naval force.  The Chevalier Paul, as the task group’s air defence ship – she’s Project Horizon, similar to our Type 45s – protected the vessels.

“It is always fantastic to visit Oman, and even more of a thrill to have had the opportunity to exercise with our close partners, the Royal Navy of Oman,” said Lt Cdr David Armstrong, chief-of-staff of the RN mine warfare force in the Gulf.

“With the threat neutralised and the minehunter force having provided safe passage in and out of port, the exercise concluded having proven the ease with which the different nations can operate together.”