Royal Marines of Arbroath-based 45 Commando spearheaded the UK’s largest combined amphibious exercises in years as they cleared the way for a formidable joint force to land in Cyprus.
The Royal Navy said the exercise, codenamed Austere Wolf, was a rehearsal of Joint Theatre Entry which involves the deployment of different military elements from air, land and sea into a potentially hostile region.
Forces launched from the sea from a Royal Navy task force deployed on a European security mission – known as Littoral Response Group North – which is operating across the Eastern Mediterranean, North Africa and the Adriatic this autumn.
45 Commando established a beachhead after insertion by landing craft launched from HMS Albion and Merlin helicopters based on RFA Mounts Bay and RFA Argus.
This then paved the way for the British Army’s 17 Port and Maritime Regiment of the Royal Logistic Corps to offload equipment from cargo ship Hurst Point, with a Royal Navy Puma drone providing surveillance overhead.
Captain Simon Kelly, task group commander and Commanding Officer of HMS Albion, said: “Very few Armed Forces have the ability to deliver joint amphibious effect on this scale and at this pace.
“The landing craft and helicopters of the Littoral Response Group North task group were a key part of supporting the Army and RAF in exercising this key UK capability.
“Our time alongside in Cyprus also provided a fantastic opportunity to support the British High Commission, demonstrating the UK’s commitment to the island.”
Lieutenant Colonel Paul Timmins Royal Marines, HMS Albion’s Amphibious Operations Officer, said: “Exercise Austere Wolf has offered us a unique opportunity to integrate land, sea and air elements in this environment.
“We have had the opportunity to develop the Royal Navy’s Littoral Strike capability further, allowing us to deliver joint combined amphibious operations more effectively.”