As part of the Joint Expeditionary Force (JEF) efforts to hone defence co-operation, British and Norwegian patrol vessels are tested in and around the many bays and jagged coast around fjords in Norway on 13 April 2023.

Exercise Tamber Shield – hosted in the inlets and narrow waters around Bergen – will help both navies develop tactics for fighting in confined waters; including simulated strikes against fast-attack craft by Royal Navy Wildcat helicopters and Norwegian missile boats.

Royal Navy Archer-class and Norwegian Skjold-class patrol boats will engage in the exercise. Both types are fast and highly-manoeuvrable, making them ideal ‘enemies’. They are the perfect targets for the Wildcat, a helicopter armed with the potent Martlet missile and the heavier, longer-range Sea Venom missile.

There are 4 Wildcats that have been dispatched with air and ground crew from 815 Naval Air Squadron, based at RNAS Yeovilton in Somerset, to Haakonsvern air base, southwest of Bergen, from where they will scour the fjords in search of the boats. The focus is on tactics – no live missiles are being fired on this exercise.

“Our personnel are all held at very high readiness to counter emergent threats, which makes exercises such as these vital in ensuring we can deliver the strike required by the Royal Navy, when it is required”, Royal Navy Commander Stu Crombie states.

The small Royal Navy patrol boats participating – HMS Archer and Pursuer – have spent several weeks in Norwegian waters, including venturing into the Arctic Circle for the first time, supporting annual Anglo-Norwegian and Nato winter exercises in the High North.

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Tamber Shield is the latest in a series of JEF exercises conducted by northern European countries in challenging Norwegian climate. It follows exercises Joint Warrior and Joint Viking, both conducted in March 2023.

This particular exercise also follows JEF discussions in Helsinki on 12 April, where JEF Chiefs of Defence agreed to continue the enhanced programme of JEF exercises and activities in the High North, Baltic Sea and North Atlantic region.