The Artemis Trident task group moves through Gulf waters02052021 CREDIT ROYAL NAVY

Royal Navy Leads Major Gulf Minehunting Workout

A Royal Navy diving team deployed on the exercise, using autonomous underwater vehicles and clearance divers to find and dispose of mines.

The Artemis Trident task group moves through Gulf waters02052021 CREDIT ROYAL NAVY

The Royal Navy has led the largest exercise of international minehunting forces in the Gulf since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic.

More than 700 personnel – sailors, divers and aircrew – from the UK, US, Australia and France took part in Artemis Trident.

The two-week exercise tested the ability of the four allied nations to keep sea lanes open.

A potent combined minehunting task force was developed by integrating ships, units and staff from the countries.

It was made up of seven mine warfare vessels, one command ship, a couple of fast patrol boats, three helicopters and three specialist dive teams that can deploy anywhere around the globe.

Support vessel RFA Cardigan Bay acted as flagship throughout – as well as home to a Royal Navy command staff which directed UK mine warfare operations in the Gulf, and a dive team who flew out from the UK to hone their expeditionary skills.

HMS Brocklesby launches her sea boat HMS Penzance passes astern 02052021 CREDIT ROYAL NAVY
HMS Brocklesby and HMS Penzance during the training (Photo: Royal Navy).

Commander James Lovell, who is in charge of the UK's Gulf-based mine forces, said the opportunity for such a major collective test with close partners was "fantastic".

"Exercising with our Gulf partners and coalition partners in the region is all about maintaining our military fitness so that we are ready to work together when the time comes.

"Artemis Trident is even more poignant this year as the UK is celebrating its 15th year of a continuous mine warfare presence in the Gulf."

Also representing the UK were three of the Royal Navy's minehunters based in Bahrain, HMS Penzance, Brocklesby and Shoreham.

The Royal Navy's Expeditionary Dive Unit 3, based in Portsmouth, deployed an 11-strong team that worked alongside its French and US counterparts.

Run every two years, Artemis Trident expects participants to clear a path through sea mines in response to a fictitious mining incident, while also defending themselves against threats in the air and on the sea, and providing maritime security for other seafarers. 

This was the fifth time Artemis Trident had been run and saw a heavy focus on technology, on top of traditional methods, as personnel tested new techniques and innovation.

Officer in Charge of Expeditionary Dive Unit 3 Lieutenant, Commander Peter Needle, said: "The exercise provided an excellent opportunity to practise and develop expeditionary mine warfare tactics, techniques and procedures, sharing ideas and experiences between the three nations."

Commanding Officer of HMS Shoreham, Lieutenant Commander David Bryden, said: "Opportunities like this to exercise with our international partners are invaluable.

"It helps to reinforce our collective commitment to safe freedom of navigation on the high seas.

"Working together with other units is very important for command and control and communications, making sure all of our systems work together," he added.

Cover image: Vessels sail through the Gulf during Artemis Trident (Picture: Royal Navy).