The AURIGA deployment is a joint maritime operational exercise lasting four months involving the UK, US and French navies.
The Task Group is commanded by Commodore Simon Ancona whose aim over the deployment is to ensure the development of a range of maritime capabilities by maximising the value of training opportunities for all joint and coalition partners involved.
Vessels involved in the Task Group include the Type 23 frigate HMS Sutherland, the Arleigh Burke Class destroyer USS Barry, RFA Fort George, French nuclear submarine FS Perle, HMS Ark Royal and HMS Liverpool.
The Task Force departed Scotland last month and once at sea started conducting routine serials to ensure the Task Group maintained full readiness.
Man-overboard exercises, where a life-sized dummy is thrown overboard and recovered, and response to discovering an exercise fire onboard HMS Sutherland tested whole ship reactions to any eventuality at sea.
Elements of the AURIGA Task Group then concentrated on integrating helicopter flying serials.
The first surface exercise and a boarding exercise were conducted between USS Barry and HMS Sutherland.
As part of their preparation, the boarding teams’ training advanced with rapid roping evolutions being conducted. This allows for a speedy insertion of the boarding team from a helicopter when time is of the essence.
The main drive for elements of the AURIGA Task Group was on honing their submarine-hunting skills during the transit between the UK and Norfolk, Virginia, USA.
Working as a combined unit they hunted, avoiding counter-detection, and engaged in simulated underwater battles with FS Perle who proved to be a worthy adversary.
Commodore Ancona took the opportunity to visit vessels within his Task Group during a photograph exercise, with HMS Sutherland, RFA Fort George, USS Barry and FS Perle joined by submarine USS Dallas, prior to arriving at the Task Group’s destination of Norfolk, Virginia.