International military training operation targets west coast

HMS Iron Duke will take part in the exercise.
HMS Iron Duke will take part in the exercise.

The coasts of Ayrshire and Galloway will see increased military activity over the next eight days as a major training exercise takes place.

Exercise Saxon Warrior 17 (SW17) will take place between 1 and 10 August, delivered by the Joint Tactical Exercise Planning Staff (JTEPS) from Faslane.

SW17 is a programme of exercises conducted across the UK by warships, submarines and aircraft from five nations including the United Kingdom and the United States.

The maritime and air activity will be focussed in the airspace, offshore and coastal waters of the whole coast of Scotland and to a lesser extent South West Approaches to the UK.

An aircraft carrier, the USS George H.W. Bush and ships from its carrier strike group, will take part in the exercise.

The vessel will be accompanied by the USS Philippine Sea, USS Donald Cook and Norwegian ship HNoMS Helge Insgstad.

The Type 23 frigates from the UK taking part are Portsmouth-based HMS Iron Duke and HMS Westminster joined by Royal Fleet Auxiliary fast-fleet tanker Wave Ruler.

There will also be a large amount of aircraft taking part with Prestwick Airport likely to see increased use by military traffic as part of the exercise.

A spokesperson for Ardrossan Coastguard Rescue Team said: “In light of ever changing threats, military ships maintain a detailed plot of maritime activity in their vicinity including establishing the identity of small fishing vessels which can be achieved visually from helicopters or by challenges on VHF radio by ships. Mariners are advised warships from various Allied Nations will be conducting such reconnaissance and challenges.

“Mariners are also requested to remain clear of the aircraft carrier during periods of when it is launching and recovering aircraft. The vessel will display Restricted in Ability to Manoeuvre shapes and/or lights during these operations.

“If you are planning on heading to the coast throughout the exercise to view the ships, please always take extra care and don’t put yourself at risk to get a photograph.”