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The Royal Navy Type 23 frigate took time out from her busy counter-terrorism and counter-narcotics operations in the Gulf for a workout with Indian navy ship (INS) Delhi and her company.
Exercise Konkan is part of the long-term commitment shared by the United Kingdom and India to maintain strong ties and developing the ability to work closely and efficiently together during operations.
The exercise had 2 distinct phases. The first was conducted alongside in Goa, where Westminster and Delhi berthed together. This presented an opportunity for some friendly inter-nation competitions including football and golf; Westminster’s team winning the football 3-1 but losing the golf 2-0.
A series of lectures and ship’s tours were also held for some of the INS Delhi’s crew onboard HMS Westminster; the aim being to improve mutual understanding of different equipment and working practices.
Lieutenant Simon Yates, HMS Westminster’s Flight Observer and the ship’s visit liaison officer, said:
The enthusiasm and desire of the Indian crew to understand our practices was clear during the tours.
There is already a significant crossover of procedures between our 2 navies. Exercise Konkan has deepened that mutual understanding and I would hope to work with the Indian navy again.
HMS Westminster’s Commanding Officer, Captain Hugh Beard, called on Rear Admiral Balvinder Singh Parhar, Flag Officer Commanding Goa Area and Naval Aviation, during the harbour phase.
The British frigate later hosted an evening reception with ceremonial sunset, which was attended by the Admiral, many of his senior staff, the Mayor of Goa and other local dignitaries.
The second phase of the exercise saw the ships head to sea, putting what was learned alongside into practice in the Indian Ocean.
HMS Westminster and the INS Delhi rehearsed gunnery, anti-submarine warfare, boarding operations, close manoeuvring and cross-deck flying. Westminster’s Lynx helicopter landed on the Delhi’s flight deck whilst the Indian ship’s Chetak helicopter hopped across to be hosted by HMS Westminster’s flight crew.
Captain Beard said he was pleased with how the exercise evolved:
The officers and crew of INS Delhi helped to make this a most successful exercise. Many valuable insights have been gained and the long-standing goodwill reinforced.
The Indian navy continues to be an invaluable ally at sea and in the air, and a worthy adversary in the field of sport.
HMS Westminster has now returned to maritime security operations in the Gulf region, where she will remain until early 2014.