Warships launch Royal Marines into battle
The Portsmouth-based landing platform provided the base to send hundreds of Marines from 42 Commando into Luce Bay in Galloway on the west coast of Scotland.
RAF Chinooks and Royal Navy Fleet Air Arm Sea Kings dropped the Marines several miles inland to attack two guerrilla-style targets at around 1.30am on Saturday morning. A further contingent of Royal and Dutch Marines launched from HMS Bulwark and HNLMS Rotterdam onto the beach to push forward until they meet up with their colleagues.
As warships and aircraft from across the Royal Navy begin a huge maritime exercise off the coast of Scotland, HMS Diamond has been gearing up for her role with a series of training drills.
The Portsmouth-based Type 45 destroyer has been putting her sailors to the test as she sails to meet the rest of the Task Force near Cape Wrath for a Combined Amphibious Landing Forces Exercise later this week.
HMS Diamond, which is affiliated to the cities of Aberdeen and Coventry, is to provide the air defence role for the exercise – which will see Royal Marines storm the remote area by landing from the sea and air under the cover of warship firepower.
“The Marines will be going ashore from HMS Illustrious and Bulwark to carry out their assault on land,” explained Principal Warfare Officer (Above Water), Lieutenant Ben Martin. “As well as keeping an eye on the airspace, we will attack enemy positions on land by providing naval gunfire support from our 4.5 gun as they arrive on the ground.”
To prepare for this role, the warship has been taking part in a number of smaller scale exercises including practising firing at a moving target.
For this, JTEPS release a remote controlled dummy craft that acts as a small fast boat – or Fast Inshore Attack Craft – for all the ships in the task group to fire on.
“The aim is to disperse the craft – if we hit it then it is a bonus,” explained Midshipman Annabel Broad. “It is really about working with other nations – we all get a feel for how the other operates and it helps makes relations stronger for when we work together in the future.”
As well as conducting the larger scale gunnery and air defence exercises, HMS Diamond’s ship’s company regularly practise their firefighting and damage control routines to make sure they are fully prepared for all eventualities.
All the exercises are as real as possible – with smoke machines used to severely limit visibility and personnel given strict time limits.
42 Royal Marines Cdo are being inserted into the field from HMS Illustrious. 42 Commando Royal Marines is participating in Exercise Joint Warrior. Over the next two weeks this Plymouth based unit of 650 marines will be conducting amphibious operations from HMS Illustrious , HMS Bulwark and the Dutch ship HNLMS Rotterdam, landing into South West Scotland and moving over 100km inland. This exercise will validate 42 Commando as the immediate readiness Commando Unit, Providing the teeth for the 1800 strong lead Commando Group. This group includes a command element, helicopters, small boats and logistic support, to conduct contingent operations around the world. 42 Commando will retain this readiness for the next 12 months and expect to deploy, with the lead Commando Group, on Operation Cougar in the latter part of 2013. Major David Ethell, Second in Command of 42 Commando Royal Marines said,” This exercise presents an opportunity for all of our capabilities to come together. 42 Commando Royal Marines has spent much of the last of the last 12 months preparing for the lead Commando role both alone and with supporting elements. This is the first time we will get to exercise all aspects of the lead Commando Group within a well-constructed scenario, in testing exercise conditions against a credible adversary.”