The Royal Marines small craft training squadron will be arriving at a new multi-million pound amphibious centre in the South West next week.
The unit of specialist amphibious assault troops (10 Landing Craft) Training Squadron Royal Marines and craft is moving permanently from its base at Royal Marines Poole to Royal Marines Tamar in HM Naval Base Devonport, Plymouth.
The new facility has been delivered by the Defence Infrastructure Organisation (DIO) in partnership with Debut Services and comprises new HQ offices, workshop and maintenance space, boat park, jetty, slipway, craft hoist and marina.
The unit trains Marines to use landing craft and the unit will travel by sea in the craft to Plymouth in orderly formation to become the latest Marines and craft to occupy the new centre of amphibious excellence. RM Tamar houses hovercraft and landing craft of all sizes for training and from fully trained battle combat experienced operational assault squadrons on amphibious ships such as HMS Bulwark, HMS Ocean and HMS Albion. The centre trains the small craft crews, and provides both a base for operational boat squadrons and engineering support.
This seaborne move will be an historic moment for the landing craft specialisation and that of 10 Training Squadron in particular. The craft will leave RM Poole for the final time and instead of heading east to conduct their usual training near Portsmouth in the Solent, they will head west towards Plymouth.
Officer Commanding 10 Training Squadron Major John Fidler said: “The opportunity is here at RM Tamar to embrace future technologies and the development of a true centre of excellence not just in amphibious warfare, but in military best practice. The training cycle directly fed by operational context and supported by bespoke engineering facilities all contained within one centralised locale.”
On the way to Plymouth the Marines will conduct exercises involving landing vehicles and troops along the beaches of Hampshire, Devon and Dorset, to put into practise what the four vocational landing craft courses have been taught over the past 14 weeks.
90 permanent staff from the Hamworthy base move with the squadron to the Royal Navy’s new £30million training centre. They will join Commandos of 539 Assault Squadron, previously based at Turnchapel, Plymouth, which has already completed their final move to RM Tamar with their impressive fast offshore raiding craft and landing craft air-cushion (hovercraft).
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 Royal 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 shop for amphibious troops and craft.”
DIO Project Manager Jonathan Hart said: “DIO’s priority is to support the Armed Forces to live, work and train in the UK and abroad and it has been an honour to be involved in the delivery of this excellent new facility for the Royal Marines.
“While maritime projects are always challenging, through collaborative working with the Royal Marines, Naval Base & Dockyard staff and our partners at Debut Services we have achieved a successful outcome.”
The history of the Royal Marines’ involvement at Poole dates back to the latter stages of WWII when the base was re-assigned from the RAF and named HMS Turtle, tasked with the training of landing craft crews for D-Day. The branch and the Corps of Royal Marines has come a long way since then. D-Day marked the single largest involvement of Royal Marines in the Second World War with 17,500 men providing almost two thirds of the landing craft crews on the day. Now, especially with the drawdown of operations in Afghanistan, the focus of the Corps returns once again to its unique role within the UK’s defence – providing the UK’s amphibious manoeuvre capability.
What is now known as Royal Marines Poole became the Amphibious School, Royal Marines and expanded to be renamed the Joint Service Amphibious Warfare Centre. In the early 1960s, it was renamed Amphibious Training Unit Royal Marines. The Technical Training Wing was moved in and became Royal Marines Poole. In 2001 1 Assault Group Royal Marines was created and was responsible for training Marines in operating landing craft.
Training is accredited by the Royal Yachting Association at various stages in a Marine’s career at entry to the specialisation as a qualified Marine and at promotion to sergeant. The Landing Craft Officer Qualifying course delivered to those who join the landing craft specialisation and prepares them for command of troops of the squadrons. Additional training tasks include amphibious training for Royal Marines recruits, young officers and on the All Arms Commando Course, small boat training for the Royal Navy, Army, Police and Customs, engineering and navigation training for the Assault Squadrons, specially-tailored landing craft for the Royal Marines Reserves and expertise to amphibious troops.