Further warnings are given in vain and the MCMV Landsort is forced to open fire. Machine gun and 40 mm rounds deal with the rapidly materialising threat. The scenario is played out in the area of the archipelago outside Valdemarsvik as part of the current naval exercise known by the initials ÖIB – Övning Internationell Beredskap or, in English, Exercise International Preparedness.
On board HMS Landsort, led by their captain, Jonas Hård af Segerstad, the ship's crew fight off surface craft and aircraft which harass the ship incessantly. In addition to the crew, also on board is a so-called STEAM team of ten or so. STEAM stands for Sea Training Evaluation and Analysis Method, which provides a way of developing the combat and self-defence capabilities of the Navy's ships. STEAM is part of the current naval exercise, ÖIB, and the majority of the ships taking part will be visited by the STEAM team. The purpose is to allow the crew, operating under realistic conditions, to practice the measures to be taken when the ship is involved in a range of different incidents. These incidents include the unremitting attacks that HMS Landsort and her crew have to fight off. Time and time again the crew train in detecting, warning and finally engaging these suddenly emerging threats.
After repeated attacks, the hostile forces manage to score hits on Landsort. Two crew members are wounded, a fire breaks out and parts of the firefighting equipment on board are knocked out. Below decks the crew battle to overcome the problems and the second-in-command Christian Martin gives the order for the firefighters to don full suits and breathing apparatus. The firefighters, working in darkness, smoke and heat, finally bring the fire under control. At the same time the medical personnel are attending to the wounded. And while all this is going on below decks, aircraft continue to attack the ship and salvo follows salvo from the air defence armament.
The ship's speaker system crackles: "Exercise terminated, all departments stand down from action stations." The STEAM team are satisfied and testing of the crew's capabilities is over – for now.
"It is enormously valuable to be put through these exercises. We learn something new every time and we try to perform better each time", says the Commanding Officer, Jonas Hård af Segerstad.
The main purpose of the exercise is to prepare the International Corvette Force (IKS) and its support vessel HMS Trossö for possible action. The IKS has previously been deployed off Lebanon in 2006 and 2007 when the corvettes Gävle and Sundsvall kept the sea routes open while also carrying out the task of preventing the smuggling of arms shipments. These operations were conducted under the UN flag. One possible alternative currently under discussion is escort duty in Operation Alcyon.
Alcyon is a nationally led operation along the east coast of Africa in which escorting warships provide protection against pirate attack for merchant shipping carrying emergency supplies between Kenya and Somalia. This ensures that food and other essentials can be brought to those suffering extreme hardship in one of the world's most war-torn regions.