HMS Northumberland welcomes Japanese warships to the UK

Type 23 frigate HMS Northumberland has welcomed two Japanese warships to the UK as part of a Royal Navy and Royal Air Force greeting party.

Sailors stood on HMS Northumberland’s port forecastle to meet training vessel JDS Kashima (leading the formation) and the Takanami-class destroyer JDS Makinami.

The formation joined forces in the North Sea off the coast of Lincolnshire, where they conducted various combined manoeuvres (a PASSEX or passage exercise), as well as a spot of ‘buzzing’ by fast-jets: an RAF Typhoon and a Hawk were also dispatched for a combination of training and the chance to record the Anglo-Japanese link-up on camera.

While Britain’s flagship HMS Albion has just spent two months in Japanese waters, mixing exercises with her hosts and the US Navy with high-profile port visits, notably to the capital Tokyo, the Japanese Maritime Self Defence Force has sent two ships in the opposite direction on a six-month global deployment.

This was a great opportunity to exercise Officer of the Watch manoeuvres and ship handling with our Japanese friends - something we seldom get the chance to do.

Lieutenant Conrad Rolfe RN

The Kashima gives Japanese naval cadets an extended insight into life at sea with one of the world’s foremost navies, while her constant companion is similar to Northumberland: a general purpose warship intended to deal with foes above, on and below the waves. The duo were making for Portsmouth after a visit to the Finnish capital Helsinki.

“The link-up has been a real privilege to conduct manoeuvres with our Japanese allies as we continue to strengthen ties here that have recently been renewed in the Far East,” said Commander Ally Pollard, Northumberland’s Commanding Officer.

Her navigator Lieutenant Conrad Rolfe added: “This was a great opportunity to exercise Officer of the Watch manoeuvres and ship handling with our Japanese friends - something we seldom get the chance to do.

“The photoshoot with the RAF Typhoon and the Japanese Seahawk helicopter went well and gave us a chance to operate at speed in close proximity to another Navy in both the air and surface environments.”

Northumberland has now resumed her routine patrol of UK waters as her crew ready themselves for the demands of Operational Sea Training off Plymouth - which determines whether warships are fit to deploy on front-line missions around the globe.