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Sailors and Royal Marines complete preparations for Baltic mission

28 May 2021
Sailors and Royal Marines are heading on operations in the Baltic after intensive training in Scotland and Norway over the past month.

The Royal Navy’s Littoral Response Group (North) have been put through their paces on amphibious warfare exercises, working closely with forces from the United States as they prepare for the next phase of their deployment.

Now, the task group – which is centred on HMS Albion and Royal Marines of 45 Commando – is bound for the largest multinational exercise of the year in the Baltic region. 

The annual NATO Baltops (‘Baltic Operations’) exercise is now in its 50th year and will see 40 ships, 60 aircraft and 4,000 personnel from 18 nations carry out a range of training designed to ensure allies work seamlessly together. 

Assault ship HMS Albion wrapped her preparations for the Baltic on Exercise Highland Dagger, an 11-day tactical amphibious exercise, which included the Devonport-based ship fending off simulated attacks from fast P2000 patrol vessels, HMS Puncher and HMS Archer. 

Albion’s crew were tasked with reacting quickly as the two small boats buzzed around them, threatening attacks with mock weapons.

Lieutenant Thomas Chatwin, Officer of the Watch on HMS Albion, said: “It was a great experience to work alongside the P2000s, testing the ship’s reaction to an incoming threat at sea. 

“Not only did it create a more realistic scenario for the ship to react to, but it was also fantastic to see one of the Royal Navy’s capital ships working alongside the P2000 workhorses that regularly train our cadets.”

Lieutenant Philip Hack, Commanding Officer of HMS Puncher, said: “P2000s are spread right out across the country with the key role to support the Royal Navy. HMS Puncher has just finished involvement in Exercise Strike Warrior with the Carrier Strike Group, so it was fantastic to also be able to aid the Littoral Response Group (North).”

Albion is now headed for a port visit to Finnish capital Helsinki, which will be closed to the public because of Covid-19 restrictions, before taking part in Baltops. 
The assault ship was last in Finland in 2019 while leading the Baltic Protector deployment as flagship of the Joint Expeditionary Force (JEF), a naval task group forged from nine nations with vital interests in the Baltic.

“The return of HMS Albion to Helsinki demonstrates the close ties between our defence forces,” said British Embassy Helsinki’s Defence Attaché Stephen Boyle.

“The UK is committed to supporting its partners in Finland, the Nordic and Baltic region. We hope that as the Covid-19 situation eases we can continue to, for example, organise joint exercises including within the JEF group.”

The Littoral Response Group (North) comprises HMS Albion, support ship RFA Mounts Bay, frigate HMS Lancaster, Wildcat helicopters from 847 Naval Air Squadron, Royal Marines of 45 Commando, 30 Commando Information Exploitation Group and 47 Commando Raiding Group, as well as 700X, 1700 Naval Air Squadron and soldiers from Royal Logistics Corp, Royal Engineers, Royal Electrical Mechanical Engineers and Royal Signals.

The participating nations in Baltops are: Belgium, Canada, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Italy, Latvia, Lithuania, the Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Spain, Sweden, Turkey, the UK, and the US. 

 

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