HMS Talent, as part of a Royal Navy Task Group which forms the biggest deployment to the Far East in more than a decade, is preparing to head into some of the busiest sea lanes of the world, notorious for pirate attacks.
The nuclear-powered Trafalgar-class HMS Talent has a long standing affiliation with the town of Shrewsbury and is one of the 12 ships of Exercise Taurus 2009, having left her base in Devonport, Plymouth, in January ahead of the main Task Group. The Group has been undertaking a period of training and multi-national exercises in the Mediterranean, practising amphibious and anti-submarine warfare in large-scale exercises off the coasts of Cyprus (Exercise Wader) and Turkey (Exercise Egemen), as well as conducting maritime security operations.
The task group has reduced in numbers for the next phase, but maintains its full capability to transit through the Red Sea, the Gulf of Aden and the Indian Ocean, culminating in an intense, multi-national training package in the primary jungles of Brunei. This will provide crucial training for the Royal Navy and its Royal Marines, many of whom have more recently been serving in-land during operations in Iraq and Afghanistan. Riverine training will also be conducted with the Bangladeshi Navy. The first in more than a decade.
Speaking from his amphibious flagship HMS Bulwark as Phase One draws to an end, Commodore Peter Hudson, Commander UK Amphibious Task Group, said: “The main objective of the first phase of this deployment was to exercise the UK’s Amphibious Task Group in a testing, challenging multi-threat environment – for both the ships and the Royal Marines.
“In completing Exercise Egemen with our US, Dutch and Turkish partners we have fully achieved this, enabling nearly 2,500 Royal Naval personnel to hone their skills, to refine procedures and to demonstrate what a powerful capability the amphibious task group can deliver. It has been a very successful period which sets the right tone of the next phase of work in the Indian Ocean .”
Taurus 09 aims to maintain the Royal Navy’s fighting capability as well as develop the UK ‘s capacity to operate with key partners and allies from NATO countries and other nations, enhancing interoperability and demonstrating the UK ‘s commitment to the stability and security of the Mediterranean, Middle East and South East Asia . In exercising its ability to deploy globally. The task group will remain available for a range of potential missions as required, such as anti-piracy, humanitarian aid and disaster relief.
The task group sailed from the UK with 12 ships, including a US Navy destroyer and a French Navy frigate, a nuclear powered submarine, Royal Marines from 40 Commando in Taunton, the Fleet Diving Unit, Assault Squadron Royal Marines from Plymouth, elements of 820 and 857 Naval Air Squadrons (NAS) from Royal Naval Air Station Culdrose, 847 Naval Air Squadron and Commando Helicopter Force (CHF) Sea Kings based in Yeovilton and support helicopter force Chinooks from 18 Squadron at RAF Odiham. It will be joined by ships, troops and aircraft from other nations as it transits towards South East Asia.
The Task Group is expected to return in August 2009. Engagement and exercises will be conducted with countries including: Malta, Gibraltar, Spain, Italy, Greece, Cyprus, Turkey, India, Sri Lanka, Bangladesh, Malaysia, Singapore, Thailand and Brunei.