The most senior officer in the Royal Navy, the First Sea Lord, has paid a flying visit to South West-based 40 Commando Royal Marines in Afghanistan while on a tour to receive an overview of military operations.
Admiral Sir Mark Stanhope, First Sea Lord and Chief of the Naval Staff, visited Afghanistan to receive an first- hand update on operations and the transition to passing security to Afghan forces.
As part of this tour he visited Taunton-based 40 Commando at Forward Operating Base Price, which Royal Marines have renamed affectionately HMS Price. There he had lunch with commandos of all ranks before receiving an update from Commanding Officer, Lieutenant Colonel Matt Jackson RM.
Admiral Stanhope said: “Albeit short, I was delighted to have visited 40 Commando at ‘HMS Price’ where it was clear they were conducting tasks with zeal and working with a calm sense of purpose. Their assured professionalism was palpable and I left extremely confident of the team’s ability deliver their mission and overcome future challenges.
“The contribution that the Royal Marines are making to the security of Helmand Province is essential to coalition plans and they have made an impressive start to their deployment. The Afghans could have no better mentors in imbuing the confidence they require to take responsibility for their own security.”
‘HMS Price’ and surrounding locations in Central Helmand are home to 650 men and women of 40 Commando and supporting forces who began their tour of duty on Operation Herrick 17 in September. During the six-month deployment, the marines’ mission is to increasingly become a supporting unit for Afghan National Security Forces (ANSF) as part of the ISAF drawdown in Afghanistan.
Lt Col Jackson said: “40 Commando Royal Marines were delighted to see First Sea Lord at ‘HMS Price’ in Central Helmand. That he was able to take time out of his busy schedule to visit was a real statement of intent that was not lost on us.
“It was great to be able to tell him about the significant progress that has been made in Central Helmand and to detail the involvement by UK servicemen and women, and specifically the Royal Marines, deployed on Operations Herrick five, seven, nine, 12, 14 and now 17. A UK presence has helped the Afghan National Security Forces take a lead in the country’s security.”