Sailors on board HMS Medway have been put through their paces in a series of training exercises in the Caribbean.
The River-class offshore patrol ship, commissioned in Chatham last year, is on deployment with a Royal Navy task force to help islanders during hurricane season.
She has recently completed a counter-narcotics patrol in the region which is also one of the fleet's main responsibilities while in the area.
HMS Medway joined support ship RFA Argus from the Royal Fleet Auxiliary – which gives logistical support to the navy – as both crews tested each other out.
Flying drills using the helicopters based on Argus and Medway's flight deck and high speed manoeuvres were among the main tasks both vessels carried out.
Training started with HMS Medway sailing behind Argus before increasing her speed and pass by the larger ship in close quarters and at speed during several passes.
The crews were then tasked with carrying out high speed and difficult moves which required clear and careful communication between both bridges.
Navigators, signallers and the bridge teams were pushed to the limit as the ships moved at speed and within close range of each other.
The exercises were made harder by adding a helicopter into the mix with a Commando Merlin Mk4 taking off and landing between both ships.
Three Merlins attached to 845 Naval Air Squadron based at Yeovilton are based on Argus at the moment along with a Wildcat from 815 Naval Air Squadron.
Each helicopter is ready to provide disaster relief since joining up with Argus in the Caribbean but took the opportunity to get some practice in with Medway's flight deck.
Lt Teddy Bradley, operations officer on HMS Medway, said: “Finishing a counter-narcotics patrol with these officer of the watch manoeuvres as a task group was a fantastic opportunity to train our bridge team in ship handling and yeomanry – skills they’re going to need in a two-carrier navy.
“Add in flying and it demonstrates just how versatile Medway and the offshore patrol vessels really are and why they are the Royal Navy’s choice for forward presence in the Caribbean.”
Second Officer Jake Bryan, navigating officer on board RFA Argus, added: “With plenty of sea room we had a good opportunity and safe environment to train. This is such a good way to really test our teams.
“The fast communications needed pushed our signallers, and the officer of the watch has to be very aware of safety in all manoeuvres. It is great training that practises ship handling and reacting quickly.”
RFA Argus will now resume patrols further north.
HMS Medway, which set off from her home base of Portsmouth for the first time in January, is sailing south to meet with Dutch ship HMNLS Groningen for further training.
The Royal Navy has a regular presence in the Caribbean dealing with drug trafficking and is aimed to act as a deterrent for drug-runners to prevent illegal drugs reaching the UK.
Ships are also on hand to help when hurricanes hit the region between June and November.
The deployment is also an opportunity for crews to train with other naval allies such as the Netherlands, France and USA.