A British warship docks in Cochin harbour

British warship HMS Lancaster arrived at Ernakulam Wharf Thursday after a three-day joint naval exercise with the Indian Navy along India’s west coast. The exercise, titled Konkan 2023 and now in its 19th edition, began on March 20th and ended on March 22nd.

During the exercise, HMS Lancaster was involved in various operations including anti-submarine maneuvers, helicopter sorties and other exercises alongside the Indian Navy’s INS Trishul.

Commander Paul Irving said: “We have a crew of 200 people and about every four months we hand over the ship between two crews, which means we can stay out in this part of the world and keep the ship here all the time. It’s a process of handing over everything from supplies to ammunition. We did an exercise with the INS Trishul.

We had a fantastic time with the Indian Navy staff for three days. We exchanged personnel between the two ships so we could see both ships. It was a good opportunity to build partnerships and make friends. We could learn a lot from each other. We conducted anti-submarine exercises, helicopter missions and various types of maneuvers. The interoperability between the two navies was perfect.”

“Alongside the crew change, we are hosting a reception and symposium on board the ship on Friday on maritime challenges and opportunities in the Indo-Pacific region,” he added. “Of the 200-strong crew, around 15 percent are women, including three officers – medical officer, ship’s engineer and operations officer.”

According to Lt Cdr Charlie Stevenson, the ship left the UK in August 2022 and was making calls in the Middle East. “The last port of call was in Muscat. We will sail next week. The ship underwent a major overhaul in 2019. The hull remains the same, but the engines, weapons and radar systems have been upgraded so we can keep the ship up to date,” he said.

“The ship is 133 meters long and we have weapon systems for different spectrums, including small and short-range weapons, surface-to-surface missiles, surface-to-air missiles, torpedoes, 4.5-inch gun,” he added.

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