Royal Navy warship HMS Argyll joined the US Navy for a two-day combined workout in the South China Sea.

The Plymouth-based frigate linked up with American destroyer McCampbell, underlining the Royal Navy’s return to the Pacific Rim as Britain looks to broader horizons after Brexit.

After spending Christmas just outside Tokyo in the US Navy’s Seventh Fleet home of Yokosuka, Argyll began the first homeward leg of her nine-month Asia-Pacific deployment.

Joining forces with the Arleigh Burke guided missile destroyer USS McCampbell, Argyll conducted communication drills, combined manoeuvres and sent some of her crew to the US warship to trade places with Americans so both individual sailors and marines could get used to different routines, terminology and working practices.

The aim is to forge an even closer working relationship between the two allies at sea on a personal and professional level – ties which will benefit both fleets for many years to come.

“Following on from our successful time in north-east Asia, where we’ve been contributing to promoting regional security and prosperity, we were delighted with the opportunity to train alongside our closest ally,” said Argyll’s Commanding Officer Commander Toby Shaughnessy.

His counterpart in the McCampbell, Commander Allison Christy added: “We routinely train with regional allies and partners, but it is a rare opportunity for my team to work with the Royal Navy.

“Professional engagement with our British counterparts allows us the opportunity to build upon our existing strong relationships and learn from each other.”

This is Argyll’s second exercise with the Seventh Fleet during her month in Japan; just before the festive break she conducted a ‘hunt’ with the Japanese helicopter carrier Izumo as they searched for an American nuclear submarine lurking in waters off Japan.

The frigate is making her way back to Devon for a March homecoming after a varied deployment which has seen her search the Indian Ocean for terrorists and smugglers, and work with warships from Malaysia, Singapore, New Zealand and Australia for a regular test of Commonwealth navies off the Malay peninsula.