Royal Navy’s Amphibious Flagship, HMS Bulwark and the Fleet Flagship HMS Ocean sail from Plymouth today (Monday) leading the Royal Navy’s first Joint Expeditionary Force (Maritime) Task Group deployment.
The task group is commanded by Commodore Andrew Burns, the Commander Amphibious Task Group, embarked in his flagship, HMS Bulwark and will sail to the Middle East.
Commodore Burns said: “This deployment is a hugely important task for the Royal Navy, and for Defence, demonstrating our ability to deploy and operate worldwide, engaging closely with our allies and standing ready for whatever a deployment to an area of strategic interest to the UK can present. I know that all of the units under my command are ready to make the most of the opportunities and challenges that lie ahead.”
This year’s major task group deployment will demonstrate the Royal Navy’s continued ability to deploy highly effective and combat-capable maritime forces anywhere in the world.
The task group will provide a powerful military capability, giving HM Government a range of options to allow the UK to respond rapidly in the event of an overseas crisis.
Captain James Parkin, the captain of HMS Bulwark said: “My sailors and Royal Marines have put everything into making sure that Bulwark is ready to deploy as the commodore’s flagship, and as a warship in her own right, and I am hugely proud of all the work they have put in to get us to this stage. I am confident that my people and my ship are ready to meet any challenge thrown at us in what promises to be a demanding and exciting programme.”
The deployment also demonstrates the Royal Navy’s contribution to the security and prosperity of the UK and a commitment to regional allies.
During the deployment, exercises in the Adriatic, Arabian Seas and Arabian Gulf, will ensure the group’s readiness for contingent operations, and develop relationships with NATO allies and partner nations.
Other ships include Plymouth-based helicopter carrier HMS Ocean, supported by the Royal Fleet Auxiliary amphibious ship RFA Mounts Bay and the MOD vessel, MV Eddystone Point.
Destroyers and frigates from the Royal Navy, US and French Navies will also join the force in the next few months. The lead Commando group, from 42 Commando Royal Marines from Bickleigh in Plymouth, will be embarked together with Chinook, Merlin and Apache attack helicopters.
Lieutenant Colonel Mark Johnson, Royal Marines, the Commander of the Joint Helicopter Force, said: “The size of the air group, and the variety of modern helicopters, is what makes this joint helicopter force unique. Our modern Merlin helicopters, along with Chinook and Apache aircraft, manned by aircrew and ground staff from all three services, makes this an important step towards the Joint Force 2025 envisaged in the recent Strategic Defence and Security Review.”
HMS Bulwark will depart with nearly 100 extra Royal Marines and 150 specialist personnel. The ship has loaded Viking armoured all-terrain tracked vehicles and others to work with the ship’s landing craft. Elsewhere
The task group will also take 750 Royal Marines, British Army soldiers, RAF airmen and civilians and officers from a range of nations, and other vehicles, aircraft, weapons, and specialist watercraft.
Captain Theo Hogg, Royal Marines, said: “having such a wide array of amphibious shipping, and a fully embarked commando group, provides the MOD with numerous options in a dangerous world. As we have always done, the Royal Marines and Royal Navy are standing by to do what is required.”
The Commander of 3 Commando Brigade Royal Marines, Brigadier Jim Morris, is also in HMS Bulwark.