The old rugby cry of ‘Up and under’ could have a marine relevance in the coming days.
Exercise Joint Warrior 102 (the second of two annual multinational air/maritime simulation warfare exercises in Scottish waters, Spring and Autumn) takes place from tomorrow, Monday 4th October 2010 until 14th October 2010.
Some submarine traffic will be going through the North Channel today (3rd October 2010).
From 9th October to 15th October 2010, during the Joint Warrior exercise period, the Skykon Tiree Wave Classic will be running with wind and wave around Argyll’s Atlantic island of Tiree.
As the sailboarders face the challenges of the Atlantic rollers, will they see as many breaching submarines as orcas? And will passing warships - including 5 from the USA and local interest, HMS Campbeltown – give them an encouraging hoot?
The two very different events will be co-habiting in the sea areas most heavily congested in this military exercise.
Throughout the period of Joint Warrior 102, submarine activity will be constant in the areas of the Hebrides and the Minch.
The most intense overall period of submarine activity runs from the 7th-10th October, although much of that will focus on exercises in the north west.
The following minehunters will be seen passing on their way north to exercise in minehunting, disposal and live charge firings in the area in and beyond Loch Ewe to the north west. In order of name, nationality and pennant number, these ships are:.
- FGS ROTTWEIL German M1061
- BNS CROCUS Belgium M917
- HNLMS ZIERIKZEE Netherlands M862
- ORP MEWA Poland M623
- HNOMS HINNOEY Norwegian M343
- ENS ADM COWAN Estonian M313
- HMS SHOREHAM UK M112
- HMS BLYTH UK M111
- HMS BROCLESBY UK M33
- HMS CATTISTOCK UK M31
- HMS LEDBURY UK M30
- HMS PENZANCE UK M106
It is worth remembering that this tine two years ago, in October 2008, what was taken to be a reasonably significant earthquake in Lochaber, reaching inland to Drumnadrochit, was later admitted to be Exercise Joint Warrior ‘disposing’ of mines in The Minch.
The ‘quake’ was registered at Glenfinnan at the head of Loch Sheil in Lochaber and the British Geological Survey (BGS) recorded it at 3.4 on the Richter Scale.
Reports of it were received from Fort William, Glenfinnan, Ardgour, Strontian and Drumnadrochit – a wide spectrum of the west coast above Argyll and penetrating deep inland.
So anything can happen in these war games – and they are a far cry from the bright shreds of sail that soar, fly and twist in the surf off Tiree.
Games are irresistible, war games doubly so – because they allow us to engage our belligerent, subversive, intelligence and hunter/killer skills, normally without deaths as the consequence.
Destruction is another matter, though.
Each year, usually twice a year, Joint Warrior’s ships and aircraft pound the living daylights out of Garvie Island off the Cape Wrath range.
This produces the same bewilderment as watching the American’s impotently blow the the ridges and peaks off the Tora Bora mountains in Afghanistan in the early display of might to show Osama Bin Laden who was boss and who knew where he was supposed to be at the time.
There is something indigestibly damaging about literally changing the map.
Each year, the submarine activity, the minehunters, the mine ‘disposals’ and the firing of live charges in Scotland’s seas cannot possibly pass without serious marine environmental damage.
And yet… we would admit to an absolute fascination with the hardware – the ships and submarines, with the skills, with this world closed off to most of us, yet often visible and with the gaming, knowing the potency of simulation.
At least we can divert ourselves from this primitive, visceral attraction to brute power by paying attention to the equally heart-stopping skills of the wavesailors and windrift on show in contest off the white beaches of Tiree.
This really is a meeting of two worlds and two philosophies, both technologically advanced in their fields; one natural and aligned with natural elements; the other manmade and bent on asserting itself over the forces of nature – the collision of Avatar.
Note: Here are some browsing websites for wavesailors, sailors, fishermen, warfare historians, journalists, peaceniks and war games aficionados alike.
- Wild Diamond is a watersports shop and tuition centre run by a top class wavesailor from Tiree, William Angus Maclean
- JW102Briefforfishingvesselsandferries-U-SOSM – is a downloadable pdf of the brief for fishing vessels and ferry operators in respect of Joint Warrior 102. It contains charts showing the Scottish west coast sea areas, their names and extents, used by Joint Warrior exercises
- This site gives comprehensive and authoritative detail on involvements and actions in Joint Warrior 102
- This website is a mine (pun intended) of information on secret bases across the UK. Scroll down for information on Argyll and Scotland – and scroll up beyond this point this link will take you to, to see information on much of the rest of the UK.
- This is a forum of military aircraft enthusiasts with knowledge, kit and location to keep an eye on developments. Joint Warrior exercises always involve aircraft and sometimes infantry.
- This page, if you scroll down a little, lists the multinational ships arriving at Glasgow or Faslane in Argyll, on Scotland’s west coast, to take part in Joint Warrior 102
- This site lists movements and exercises involving military aircraft and includes arrivals and planned arrivals at RAF Kinloss and RAF Lossiemouth in connection with Joint Warrior 102.