The British Royal Navy’s Type 23 frigate HMS Lancaster has tested its newly installed heavy machine-guns for the first time off the South Coast.

The vessel is equipped with .50 calibre heavy machine-guns, typically used by Royal Marines and navy helicopter crew, to increase its firepower while defending itself against small, fast-attack crafts.

The weapon can fire at 500-600 rounds per minute and has a range of up to 2,000m. The half inch/12.7mm diameter shells can penetrate light armour and will tear through plastics, such as RIB speed boats.

During the test, the gunners fired multiple rounds at various angles and in various directions from the bridge wing mountings. Additional such tests will be conducted soon to enhance firing accuracy and efficacy.

HMS Lancaster close-range weapons instructor leading seaman Mikey Benbow said: “I was eager to get on the mount as nobody on the ship had ever fired it before and although it’s within the confines of my job on board, it’s a new weapon to me and has given me another challenge and weapon to train with.

“When it actually came to firing, to be honest it didn’t have as much of a kick as I thought it would, but it really came into its own with the sound of each round leaving the gun.

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“I can imagine it would be more intimidating than our current weapons for someone to hear if they were attacking the ship.”

Commissioned in 1992, HMS Lancaster began this year by undergoing some maintenance. The ship has a range of around 7,800 miles and a top speed of 28 knots.