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Fire and fury on the Welsh ranges from Royal Marines Nuclear guardians

Fire and fury on the Welsh ranges from Royal Marines Nuclear guardians
20 October 2017
The peace and tranquillity of rural Wales was shattered by the guardians of the nation's ultimate weapon as they honed their gunnery skills.

Royal Marines of 43 Commando Fleet Protection Group's Boat Troop made the 800-mile round trip from Faslane to the Castlemartin ranges to practise with their General Purpose Machine Guns on land and at sea.

It's the duty of 43 Commando to protect the nation's nuclear deterrent when the Vanguard class of submarines are in harbour at Faslane and when the leviathans are on the surface departing from or returning to base.

Together with MOD police in their various craft, the men of 43's Boat Troop form a ring of steel around the V-boats, using fast ORC patrol craft and three 33kt Island-class patrol boats (Mull, Rona, Eorsa) - all armed with GPMGs.

The focus has been on providing security for the continuous nuclear deterrent with our Royal Navy and civilian counterparts

Colonel Anthony de Reya, Commanding Officer of 43 Commando FPGRM

Live firing opportunities in the confines of Faslane and the Clyde estuary are few and far between, but there are far fewer restrictions in the wilds of Pembrokeshire and the Angle Peninsula.

The 5,900 acres of the Castlemartin ranges, five miles southwest of Pembroke, make the perfect playground - they're about one third the size of Plymouth - and are regularly used by the Corps for live shoots, including the Boat Troop's annual Ocean Fire.

They took to the land first, starting with basics on the shooting range, then moving on to trailers to form a formidable gunline of machine-guns, spewing out 7.62mm bullets at two-and-a-half-times the speed of sound at the rate of 750 rounds a minute.

And then they did the same from the ORCs buzzing around in the Bristol Channel at up to 39kts (over 40mph), aiming at targets on land and on the water.

"The focus has been on providing security for the continuous nuclear deterrent with our Royal Navy and civilian counterparts," explained Colonel Anthony de Reya, 43's Commanding Officer.

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