An amphibious task group of ships and Royal Marines sailed from Plymouth yesterday (Monday 8th) for extreme cold weather training.
HMS Albion, the fleet high-readiness amphibious flagship, leads the task group to take part in Exercise Cold Response in Norway.
The 18,500 ton assault ship sailed at midday with staff from Commander Amphibious Task Group and 3 Commando Brigade Royal Marines. They will be joined by the helicopter carrier HMS Ocean, which sailed last night and the support ship Royal Fleet Auxiliary Mounts Bay.
For the next few weeks the task group will work with Scotland-based 45 Commando Royal Marines which are already training in Norway. Cold Response is designed to test both personnel and ships in extreme weather conditions. The Royal Marines, Army gunners from plymouth-based 29 Commando and sailors from the ships will work alongside each other, preparing for operations anywhere in the world.
HMS Albion has just completed the final phase of operational sea training with Flag Officer Sea training organisation when the ship worked with Plymouth-based 42 Commando Royal Marines on amphibious landings on the South West coast .
Commander Geoff Wintle, HMS Albion’s head of logistics said: “The ship’s company have been working hard during operational sea training and they are now looking forward to taking the next step up with the first real exercise with the battle staff embarked. The conditions in Norway will be extremely challenging although the recent cold weather in the UK has given people a taste of life in the ‘freezer’.”
HMS Albion has recently undergone a £26M maintenance period in Devonport Dockyard and has now HMS Albion is a landing platform dock whose normal role is to provide an afloat HQ for Commander Amphibious Task Group and his staff alongside the commander and staff of 3 Commando Brigade Royal Marines.
In addition to her normal complement of 350 sailors and Royal Marines, the ship has accommodation for up to 150 soldiers/Marines as a landing force and can carry 70 vehicles, stores and equipment. The landing force is disembarked using the ship’s landing craft, four from the internal floodable dock and four smaller craft launched from the side of the ship. HMS Albion also has a large flight deck which can operate a wide range of helicopters including the Chinook.