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Dagger’s drawn off Oman as four navies combine for week-long action-packed exercise
24 February 2017

HMS Daring was in the vanguard as four British ships joined French, American and Omani allies in the Arabian Sea.

Over five days, the force came under air attack from F-16 fighters, carried out gunnery exercises, counter-terrorism training and honed minehunting skills.

ONE of the smallest warships in the US Navy’s inventory accompanies HMS Daring in the Gulf of Oman as a major annual work-out for friendly navies draws to a close.

Eleven ships from four nations converged on the coast of Oman for Khunjar Hadd – Sharp Dagger – a concerted test of warships to both work together and deal with a myriad of threats.

Led by Daring, Britain committed four ships for the week-long exercise, joined by minehunters Bangor and Middleton, their mother ship RFA Lyme Bay; one American minehunter (Dextrous), two fast, heavily-armed patrol boats (Monsoon and Squall), three Omani patrol vessels and a solitary French warship, air defence frigate FS Forbin (which looks very similar to Daring) also threw their hats into the ring.

The eclectic mix of ships and roles meant the week of combined training was as varied as any sailor might wish for: gunnery, air attacks by Omani F-16s, helicopters practising rescue mission, sea boats buzzing about with boarding teams for counter-piracy/terrorism board and search drills and mine warfare and diving exercises.

Khunjar Hadd is now into its 22nd incarnation, with the host nation inviting its international allies to partake each year; the scale and variety of the resulting exercise depends on the response. The 2017 exercise saw the biggest commitment from the RN in three years.

“It is important to continue learning and sharing knowledge with our partner nations through exercises to strengthen our mutual ability to address threats to the freedom of navigation and free flow of commerce,” said Capt Kim Watts, in command of Lyme Bay.

British and American minehunters made use of his ship during the exercise, taking on fuel and other supplies, while the ship’s dock served as the launchpad for operations by clearance divers.

“The level of multi-national integration demonstrated during this exercise is inspiring and is a testament to the hard work being done here," said Capt Eric Wirstrom, head of Commander Task Force 52 which oversees all operations by US mine warfare forces in the Gulf region.

“These exercises strengthen our solid relationships and bring us together towards the shared goal of free flow of commerce."

British participants in Khunjar Hadd returned to the Gulf at the exercise’s end, while the US Navy and Marine Corps continued its training alongside the Omanis with a large-scale amphibious exercise, Sea Soldier.