A major naval exercise involving members of the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation, has been taking place off the coast of South West Europe.
A major naval exercise involving members of the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation, has been taking place off the coast of South West Europe. Its aim has been to determine NATO's ability to keep vital Atlantic shipping lanes open in the event of a future war.
SYNOPSIS: The British supplied the anti-submarine warfare carrier HMS Hermes, as part of its contribution, and others taking part were West Germany, Canada, the Netherlands, Norway, Portugal, and the United States. In a future war, the survival of Allied armies in Europe could depend upon their receiving supplies and reinforcements quickly, and primarily by sea. The exercise was to test the methods of keeping sea routes open under attack.
A Russian ship was cruising in this area of the Bay of Biscay during part of the exercise on Tuesday (25 October). The anti-submarine and anti-aircraft ships acts as support vessels for two groups of supply ships which headed for the English channel under mock attack from the 'enemy'.
At one stage, the emergency conditions were real. A British helicopter crashed into the sea, and two other helicopters went to its rescue. The four crew members were brought back to the Hermes. Two were uninjured, and the other two had small bruises. But their helicopter sank and an inquiry will be held into the accident.
The exercise, code-named Ocean Safari '77, continued smoothly after the accident.
One vital aspect was refuelling of ships at sea. Here, an American supply ship manoeuvres into position to supply fuel to British frigate HMS Arrow. The 12-day exercise was to end on Saturday (29 October). Earlier in the week, the United States and NATO allies had agreed on a new proposal to the Soviet Union in an attempt to negotiate troop reductions in central Europe. The United States hopes the Kremlin will approve, although it rejected a previous proposal.