A foggy grey Cornish afternoon was the setting for the first landings of an amphibious exercise off the South West coast involving Devon ships and Royal Marines.
Exercise South West Sword is designed to test Plymouth-based assault ship HMS Albion’s capabilities as the amphibious flagship and started at Pentewan Sands in Cornwall yesterday.
Over the next few days there will be a series of assaults and raids along the Cornish and Devon coasts. Plymouth-based 42 Commando Royal Marines are also taking part as is the support ship Royal Fleet Auxiliary Mounts Bay.
Commander Geoff Wintle, of HMS Albion said: “Despite the gloomy weather, the exercise has got off to a good start. We are delighted that 42 Commando Royal Marines are working with us on this one. We will also see them for Exercise Auriga later in the year, when we will take HMS Albion to the USA where 42 Commando will exercise alongside the US Marine Corps.”
HMS Albion is in her final phase of operational sea training under the direction of Flag Officer Sea Training and has embarked the Royal Marines from Bickleigh Barracks.
Commander Wintle added that: “The ship is in an excellent state and the sailors and Royal Marines would be working closely together over the next two weeks. The ship will be tested as a command and control platform and the result would be a fully worked-up Fleet amphibious flagship capable of hosting Commander Amphibious Task Group and 3 Commando Brigade Royal Marines ready for operations anywhere in the world.”
The exercise will see HMS Albion, RFA Mounts Bay and HMS Liverpool ranging up and down the coast of Cornwall and Devon practising maritime operations and series of amphibious raids and assaults. HMS Albion will the return to Devonport before sailing in early February for Norway where the ship will work with 45 Commando in a more testing Arctic environment.
Photos by Leading Royal Navy photographer Luron Wright