The Royal Marines have been flexing their collective muscle on exercise in Cornwall.
SA80 rifles in hand, the men of Bravo Company, 40 Commando, swarm ashore from Offshore Raiding Craft at picture-postcard Cawsand Beach – just some of the roughly 700 Royal Marines involved in Exercise South-West Sword, a week-long workout for the green berets and the nation’s flagship, HMS Bulwark, in Plymouth Sound.
The exercise comes as the Royal Marines prepare to celebrate the Corps 350 birthday this year and was a demonstration of 40 Commando returning to their amphibious roots.
The men of 40, based at Norton Manor Camp near Taunton, have most recently been in action in their native Somerset, helping out with the flood relief efforts in communities inundated during the winter storms.
Come May, however, they will take over as the UK’s Lead Commando Group – the Royal Marines on-call to respond to world events, should the government require an instant military reaction.
Their transport for such an action would be Bulwark, flagship of the Fleet – and also the UK’s Response Force Task Group which, like the lead commando group, is also on standby for a quick response.
But before they can deploy they must understand the fundamentals of amphibious warfare and South-West Sword provided the necessary training.
Maj Chris Payne, 40 Commando’s Operations Officer, said: “The exercise was an important warm-up for the next stage of the Unit’s training ahead of assuming the on-call role as Lead Commando Group. The commandos came ashore by air and sea, as 40 Commando’s headquarters staff choreographed everything from Bulwark’s operations and planning room.”
Next week 40 Commando Group will re-join Bulwark, amongst other amphibious Ships, to take part in Joint Warrior, the twice-yearly exercise involving all three Armed Forces off Western Scotland which begins next week.
And later this year, 40 Cdo will join Bulwark again to take part in the Royal Navy’s headline deployment of the autumn, Cougar 14, to the Mediterranean and Middle East.