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British warship comes calling at Cochin Port

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

During the exercise, HMS Lancaster engaged in various  operations, including anti-submarine manoeuvres, helicopter sorties, and other exercises alongside INS Trishul of the Indian Navy.

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

We had a fantastic time with the Indian Naval personnel 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 operations and different  kinds of manoeuvres. The interoperability between the two navies was perfect.”

“Besides the crew change, we host a reception and symposium on maritime challenges and  opportunities in the Indo-pacific region, onboard the vessel on Friday,” he added. “Of the 200 crew, around 15 per cent are females including three officers–medical  officer, marine engineering and operations officer.”

According to Lt Cdr Charlie Stevenson, the ship left Britain in August 2022 and made ports of call in the middle- east. “The last port of call was in Muscat. We will sail next week. The ship underwent a major refit in 2019. The hull remains the same but the machinery, weapons, and  radar systems were upgraded so that we could keep the ship updated,” he said.

“The ship is 133-metres long and we have weapons systems for various spectrums including  small and close range weapons, the surface to surface missiles, the surface to air missiles, torpedos, 4.5-inch gun,” he added.

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