The international military training exercise Joint Warrior is continuing in the waters and in the air around the Western Isles, but on a scaled back level due to the real international crisis caused by Coronavirus. It is set to continue until 9 April.

The exercise involves five nations including the UK and not the 14 nations participating in the previous exercise, which was in October 2019. It will focus on anti-submarine warfare and will not include minesweeping activity as is usual.

Royal Navy Captain P J Hammond, captain of exercise co-ordinators the Joint Tactical Exercise Planning Staff (JTEPS), said it was “a programme of exercises conducted across the North West of Scotland by warships, submarines and aircraft from both the UK and foreign nations.”

Germany, the USA, Denmark and Norway are taking part and the exercises will also see some of the first operations of the RAF’s new Poseidon aircraft, the Pride of Moray and the City of Elgin, currently operating out of RAF Kinloss while RAF Lossiemouth has structural work completed to accommodate the new maritime patrol craft.

Captain Hammond said: “Most of the activity will be focussed in the airspace, offshore and coastal waters to the North and North West of Scotland. It should be noted that due to COVID-19 this Joint Warrior is of a reduced scale in comparison to previous exercises.”

Warship and submarine activity began in the Minches last week (Wednesday 1 April) and there’s also currently activity to the west of Lewis and north of the Butt of Lewis.

Mariners in all vessels may be challenged by radio as part of the exercise activity.  For safety of all vessels a submarine activity hotline is in operation at all times on 01923 956 389 and Stornoway Coastguard is also able to contact Joint Warrior staff

The pictures show Royal Danish Navy vessel HDMS Absalon (L16) in the Minch off south Harris, photo by Angus Macleod and an RAF Poseidon with two Typhoon jets after take-off from RAF Kinloss (RAF).