Naval forces from the UK, Norway and Denmark have conducted a joint annual maritime exercise to assess and enhance the capabilities of future submarine commanders.

The fortnight-long exercise, called Flotex, aims to prepare the forces to undertake missions to protect NATO’s northern flank.

It involves participation of the UK Royal Navy’s (RN) Astute-class nuclear-powered submarine HMS Artful and Duke-class or Type 23 frigate HMS Northumberland.

The two vessels have joined the Royal Norwegian Navy (Sjøforsvaret) forces as well as naval vessels, F-35 stealth fighter jets and long-range maritime patrol aircraft from The Royal Danish Navy.

According to the RN, HMS Artful has been hosting several training drills for the future submarine commanding officers to prepare them for conducting live-action phase of the ‘Submarine Command Course or Perisher’.

Perisher course lead instructor commander McAllister said: “Flotex provided a warfare scenario that was complex enough to meet my training aims in an area of ever-changing conditions which confused picture compilation, with fjords which made for demanding dived navigation, all of which combined to challenge my students to their limit.”

The latest iteration of Flotex allowed the trainees to perform various submarine hunting drills, led by HMS Northumberland frigate. 

Conducted in the near-sub-zero waters of the Norwegian Sea and Arctic Sea, the training activities allowed the trainee commanders to operate in challenging scenarios.

The operations were also supported by the Merlin helicopters that allowed the personnel to locate hostile submarines.

RN HMS Northumberland commanding officer commander Will Edwards-Bannon said: “The challenging conditions – both above and below the waves – have been the perfect environment for my crew to hone their skills and assure our ability to defend Nato’s Northern Flank.”