US Marine Corps’ Osprey lands on Bulwark
Royal Marines were carried into ‘battle’ by a new steed when they tried out the US Marine Corps’ stunning Osprey as Britain’s task group trained with the Americans and Kuwaitis in the Gulf.
For the first time the helicopter-cum-aircraft set down on the deck of Britain’s flagship, HMS Bulwark during Exercise Cougar Voyage as UK and US amphibious task forces linked up.
Bulwark is heading the UK Response Force Task Group on its annual Cougar deployment involving 3 Commando Brigade, while USS Makin Island is the flagship of Amphibious Squadron 5 and the 11th Marine Expeditionary Unit.
Three times the size of HMS Bulwark, the 42,000-tonne Wasp-class assault ship is the home to a dozen Ospreys – the world’s first tilt-rotor aircraft, it can land, take off and hover like a helicopter, then can fly like a traditional propeller-driven aircraft at speeds over 300mph and heights above 25,000ft once airborne.
The unique aircraft has paid infrequent visits to Royal Navy aircraft carriers over the past decade – but never before to Bulwark, so its arrival drew a lot of attention from the ship’s company.
“It is an amazing aircraft and to be able to see it land on our flight deck for the first time was fantastic,” said Naval Airman (Aircraft Handler) Brent Richardson.
“The downwash from a Merlin helicopter is pretty strong but this was off the scale!”
As part of the week-long ground, air and amphibious Cougar Voyage exercise, US Marines joined their Green Beret counterparts from the Royal Marines aboard support ship RFA Lyme Bay for combined training.
“Cougar Voyage has been an ideal opportunity to demonstrate and practise the ability of our forces to work together and deliver training between us and our partners involved in the exercise,” said Royal Marine Lieutenant Colonel Martin Collin, deployed with HMS Bulwark as part of the staff of Commander UK Task Group.
“Operating with unusual aircraft like the Osprey also enhances the capabilities of our task group.”
Mid-exercise, Bulwark hosted some 150 students from Kuwait’s Mubarak al-Abdullah Joint Command and Staff College whilst at anchor off Kuwait City.
Arriving by landing craft, the staff and students were able to witness a variety of amphibious demonstrations and listen to a series of briefings during their visit.
“There is a traditionally strong relationship between the British and Kuwaiti Armed Forces so it is a real privilege for me to welcome our Kuwaiti colleagues on-board HMS Bulwark,” said the flagship’s Commanding Officer Captain Dean Bassett.
“By exercising together and sharing our knowledge and experience afloat, our ability to work together in the future can only benefit as a result.”