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Royal Marines stage high-octane raids

25 February 2019
Royal Marines assault teams hit ‘enemy’ targets during high-speed raids in the icy fjords and mountains of Norway.

Commandos from 539 Assault Squadron, normally based with Plymouth’s 1 Assault Group – the Corps’ amphibious assault specialists – are testing themselves deep inside the Arctic Circle, ensuring they are equipped for battle in the high north.

From their base in Hellarbogen – nearly 650 miles north of capital Oslo – the specialist troops are working on operating their high-speed raiding boats, bringing fire and fury from the waterline in one of the harshest environments in the world.

The latest seaborne assaults saw 539 navigate nearly 42 miles of fjords to the south in freezing conditions, before storming buildings in live-firing raids at Ramsund Naval Base’s ‘kill house’ to test their close combat skills.

Each of these challenges requires practice to ensure that we are able to deliver results in any conditions that we may face.

Captain Rob Smith RM

The riverine assault experts have also turned their focus to high above the water’s edge, leading fighting patrols in the snow-glazed mountains as they ramp up the heat during the Royal Marines’ winter deployment.

The squadron shipped smaller landing craft – capable of ferrying a company of Royal Marines or a Land Rover ashore – plus fast ORC Offshore Raiding Craft, which act as gunboats and carry raiding parties, small Inshore Raiding Craft for ‘under the radar’ raids to the high north for an extended period of winter training.

That also meant training in the field by conducting patrols in the hills surrounding Gratangenfjord before hitting the water.

“Meanwhile, we’ve been trialling some of our long-range insertion techniques in this environment to identify any adjustments required for the extreme cold,” said Captain Rob Smith, Officer Commanding 2 Troop.

“Aside from the clothing needed to overcome the wind-chill experienced at high speeds, the sub-zero temperatures can cause equipment controls to freeze over and ropes to become rock hard.

“Each of these challenges requires practice to ensure that we are able to deliver results in any conditions that we may face.”

The squadron’s craft are a rapid means of manoeuvring personnel into combat and are key in delivering the might of the Royal Marines to the front line.

In total, 16 craft are currently in the high north – six ORCs, eight Inshore Raiding Craft and two Landing Craft Vehicle Personnel – having been loaded up in the UK and transported by Sealift Ro-Ro, MV Hurst Point, to Scandinavia.

1AGRM’s deployment to the region is essential in ensuring the amphibious mobility of the Royal Marines in the unforgiving Arctic environment.

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