The Royal Navy amphibious flagship, HMS Bulwark, is in Gibraltar joining RFA Mounts Bay and MV Eddystone for the first port visit of the Royal Navy’s inaugural Joint Expeditionary Force Task Group deployment.
Destroyers and frigates from the Royal Navy (including the Fleet Flagship HMS Ocean), US and French Navies will also join the force at various points during the next few months.
Captain James Parkin, the Captain of HMS Bulwark said: “I am delighted to return to Gibraltar as the first stop of our deployment this autumn. My sailors and Royal Marines have put everything into making sure that Bulwark was ready to deploy last week as the commodore’s flagship, and as a warship in her own right, and I am hugely proud of all the work they have put in to get us to this stage. I am confident that my people and my ship are ready to meet any challenge thrown at us in what promises to be a demanding and exciting programme.”
The major task group deployment to the Mediterranean and Middle East will demonstrate the Royal Navy’s ability to deploy highly effective and combat-capable maritime forces anywhere in the world. The task group will provide a powerful military capability, giving the Government a range of options to allow the UK to respond rapidly in the event of an overseas crisis.
Father Charles Bruzon, Chaplain of HMS Bulwark and a Gibraltarian himself, said: “It always fills me with great pride to arrive in my home town in one of Her Majesty’s Ships and to do so as Chaplain to HMS Bulwark is a dream come true. It is especially satisfying to hear the sailors talk of their affection for ‘Gib’ and I know they’ll be afforded a very warm Gibraltarian welcome.”
The task group, commanded by Commodore Andrew Burns, also consists of Plymouth-based helicopter carrier HMS Ocean with the lead Commando Group, from 42 Commando Royal Marines, also from Plymouth and Chinook, Merlin and Apache attack helicopters on board.
HMS Bulkwark and HMS Ocean sailed from Plymouth last week with the task group including the following personel and equipment to provide the fighting edge if needed: Viking armoured all-terrain tracked vehicles, numerous support vehicles, ship’s landing craft, over 750 Royal Marines, British Army soldiers, RAF airmen, and civilians and officers from a range of nations, as well as additional vehicles, aircraft, weapons, and specialist watercraft.