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UK and US forces combine on amphibious exercises

Royal Navy sailors and Royal Marines have been operating alongside their US Navy and US Marine Corps comrades on amphibious exercises in Norway and Scotland.

The UK’s Littoral Response Group (North) deployment sees commando forces and amphibious ships HMS Albion and RFA Mounts Bay, plus Type 23 frigate HMS Lancaster deploy around northern Europe and Baltic Sea in the coming months.

The task group has so far been working closely with the USS Iwo Jima’s Amphibious Ready Group off the coast of Scotland, on the US-led Exercise Ragnar Viking off the Norwegian coast and on operations in the North Sea.

The training included Royal Marines of 45 Commando being taken ashore from HMS Albion by the US Marine Corps’ impressive heavy-lift Super Stallion helicopters from the 24th Marine Expeditionary Unit, as well as moving to locations inland via their unique tiltrotor Osprey aircraft. 

Lieutenant Commander Bob Powell, the Task Group’s Staff Aviation Officer on board HMS Albion, said: “The value of this training with our US allies cannot be underestimated. It allows us to test, prove and learn from even the most simple of daily tasks up to concurrent helicopter load lifting and replenishment at sea between three very large ships in very close quarters. 

“It’s a skill set not many nations can carry out as efficiently and safely as the Royal Navy and US Navy.

“It has been a genuine pleasure to have worked with our US partners, not only over the last five days but also during the weeks and months of planning that preceded this. Their humour, enthusiasm and incredible generosity shows that the special relationship between our two nations and armed forces remains as strong as it has ever been.”

The task groups combined initially on a ‘wader’ training package, which was an opportunity for sailors and commandos to refresh their amphibious assault skills – this included land, sea and air training with US helicopters to ensure the two forces could work together effectively. 

US Navy Captain Darren Nelson, the commodore of Amphibious Squadron Four, was able to visit HMS Albion during the training.

He said: "It was a pleasure visiting the gracious HMS Albion. The US-UK strategic partnership has been forged over the past seven decades and is built on a foundation of shared values, experiences, and beliefs."

The UK task group then headed for Norway for the US-led Ragnar Viking, which included the Iwo Jima Amphibious Ready Group, 24th Marine Expeditionary Unit, USS New Mexico, USS Ross, USS Arleigh Burke, France’s FS Normandie and Norway’s HNoMS Sjkold and HNomS Otto Sverdrup, plus US Navy, US Marine Corps and US Air Force aircraft. 

Poland and Lithuania also joined the exercises in an impressive gathering of NATO military might. 

The Littoral Response Group (North) Deployment will now be further tested in Exercise Highland Dagger, a 11-day tactical exercise, before moving into northern Europe and the Baltic region for operations with NATO allies.

 

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