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HMS Spey and Gurkhas benefit from Brunei link-up

Speys sailors try entry techniques taught by the Gurkhas.
27 February 2024
What could sailors learn from Gurkhas? And would Gurkhas benefit from going to sea?

Those were the questions posed by HMS Spey and the elite rifle regiment, who are now formally bound.


The two agreed an affiliation when the patrol ship visited Brunei to improve sea-land integration.


The sultanate on the northern coast of Borneo is home to a permanent British military presence: an army garrison (1st Battalion Royal Gurkha Rifles – typically shortened to 1 RGR), the Jungle Warfare School and a supporting RAF Squadron, 230, and its Puma helicopters.


The Gurkhas took Spey’s protection force – who defend the ship against potential unwanted/hostile boarders, as well as supporting board-and-search operations – to their close-quarters training area at Tuker Lines barracks to practise clearing techniques.


That visit was reciprocated when a group from 1 RGR visited Spey to understand more about her mission, general life at sea and discuss future joint training opportunities.


“It was an excellent opportunity to test and develop our skills in an urban environment. It is a great opportunity to work with the Gurkhas and improve our ability to train together,” said Leading Weapon Engineering Technician Ben Smythe.


Spey – and her sister HMS Tamar which is also deployed to the Indo-Asia-Pacific theatre – has substantial capacity for carrying a Gurkha (or commando/regular army) detachment up to 50 strong.


“The Gurkhas in Brunei are the UK’s largest and most persistent military presence in the region and have been for over 25 years,” explained Colonel Hugo Stanford-Tuck, Commander British Forces Brunei.

“The formation of the Indo-Asia Pacific Task Force based on 1 RGR is recognition of the capability we offer to allies and partners in the region as well as to UK Defence.”


He said working and training alongside Spey had been “brilliant”.


“We really welcome their renewed focus on this part of the world. Our work together has been a fantastic demonstration of how well we can operate with each other and sets us up to contribute more effectively to addressing any regional security and humanitarian challenges.”


Spey’s Commanding officer Commander Paul Caddy added: “Like HMS Spey, the Gurkhas, and British Forces Brunei form part of the UK’s commitment to Southeast Asia and the wider Indo Pacific.


“By deepening our co-operation with 1 RGR, we can improve our ability to work jointly on the full range of operations from security assistance to humanitarian aid and disaster relief in the region.”

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