Royal Marines surged in formation at speed up the River Tamar in their fast off-shore raiding craft to their newly-built base in the centre for amphibious warfare in Plymouth.
The Marines of 539 Assault Squadron, previously based at Turnchapel, at Plymstock, have completed their final move of personnel, equipment and fast assault boats into their new home at the newly name Royal Marines Tamar, in HM Naval Base, further cementing Devonport’s position as the home of the Royal Navy’s amphibious forces within the UK.
The final flotilla to arrive at Royal Marine Tamar were ten armoured Offshore Raiding Craft which sped up the Tamar, past Drakes Island in Plymouth Sound into the River Hamoaze and River Tamar to take up permanent home in Weston Mill Lake in North Yard.
Colonel Garth Manger, commanding officer of 1 Assault Squadron and Royal Marines Tamar, said: “The official handover of Royal Marines Tamar from a building site to an operating amphibious base is fantastic. RM Tamar is the first of the Navy’s centres of specialisation and has been delivered on time and in budget. It offers defence, the Royal Navy and the Royal Marines a modern, bespoke amphibious operating base capable of delivering support to worldwide operations, training and maintenance in a ‘one-stop amphibious shop’.”
RM Tamar is the new title of the major new £30m project combining operational and training units of small boats, landing craft and hovercraft operated by Royal Marines. One building is the HQ of both 539 Assault Squadron Royal Marines and 10 (Landing Craft) Training Squadron Royal Marines (currently in Poole), and provides training rooms.
The project was overseen by the Defence Infrastructure Organisation and carried out by Debut Services (South West) Ltd to build new waterfront facilities in North Yard including a marina, jetty and waterside services.
The second large building will house landing craft and mechanical transport engineering workshops, including hard-standing available for landing craft storage. A concrete slipway replaces a narrow pebbled beach and will be used to launch and recover the hovercraft and small boats and landing craft. Larger landing craft will be carried out of the water for storage and maintenance by a powerful new boat-lift.
Situated alongside berths for amphibious ships, HMS Albion, HMS Bulwark and HMS Ocean, RM Tamar is the centre of excellence in Plymouth for amphibious capability across the fleet with 300 military personnel (plus up to 132 throughout the year on courses) who will be relocated into the dockyard as part of this move later this year.
539 is the UK’s only self-supporting and organised assault squadron – part of 3 Commando Brigade Royal Marines. Unlike other assault squadrons whose focus is towards amphibious assault and mass deployment from amphibious ships such as HMS Bulwark, 539’s focus is towards smaller scale raiding and river and river estuary operations.