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RFA Mounts Bay puts seal on Baltic deployment

1 July 2021
Support ship RFA Mounts Bay put the seal on her Baltic deployment by pouring her embarked Royal Marines onto beaches in a mock invasion of Lithuania.

The Bay-class vessel joined HMS Albion on the Littoral Response Group (North), which sent commando forces into the heart of the Baltic over the last couple of months on operations alongside NATO allies and partners. 

Mounts Bay completed exercises with the Danes, Swedes and the Norwegians among others, as well as making a stop in Estonia and the finale of the deployment: an ‘invasion’ of Lithuania’s coastline as part of the large-scale Baltops exercises.

“Klaipeda, Lithuania was the location for our final showdown. Mounts took station in the dead hours of the night and poured forth her Royal Marines in their landing craft to storm the beaches,” said Cadet Francis Cox-Palmer-White, an officer under training on Mounts Bay’s. 

“Alas, that is where the executive officer’s role in the final confrontation ends, for we had delivered the payload to the right place at the right time – it was over to Royal for the rest.

“Yet, Mounts had proved that the Royal Fleet Auxiliary delivers side by side with every other element of a NATO task force. She is a vital bridge between first strike and sustainable invasion.”

The deployment kicked off with Mounts Bay first looking west before heading east, completing preparations for their eventual deployment on Exercise Highland Dagger in Scotland, as well as meeting up with the UK Carrier Strike Group in the North Sea.

“This was the dry run where our team honed their craft, refreshed their training and recited their gun drills,” said added Cdt Cox-Palmer-White.

Mounts Bay then sailed with Albion through the Skagerrak – a strait running between the Jutland peninsula of Denmark, the southeast coast of Norway and the west coast of Sweden – and under the under the Øresund Bridge, which connects Sweden and Denmark.  

“By the time we arrived in Estonia, the vessel had exercised with the Danes, the Swedes, and the Norwegians, among others,” said Cdt Cox-Palmer-White.

“We had scouted out the coastlines of Bornholm, Gotland, and Stockholm and racked up sufficient hours of flying serials that even our four cadets were feeling confident in their routines.”

The task group then headed back out of the Baltic for exercises in the North Sea aimed at protecting them from threats above and below the waves, before turning their attention to the deployment’s finale in Lithuania. 

Mounts passed this time under the Storebæltsforbindelsen (the ‘The Great Belt Fixed Link’ between the Danish mainland and her islands). 

Then it was onto the amphibious exercises in Lithuania, which saw 45 Commando crash ashore and complete intensive training in the Baltic nation. 

Mounts then headed for her final stop in Gdynia, Poland – the twin city of both Klaipeda and Plymouth, before heading back to the UK.

 

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