The flagship of the UK Royal Navy, amphibious transport dock HMAS Albion, has embarked more than 1,000 sailors and Royal Marines for a three-month mission to the Mediterranean to test new tactics and equipment.
During the deployment, the task group will visit numerous partner nations across the Mediterranean and Black Sea.
While deployed, the ships will test the new concepts of the Littoral Strike Group (which replaces the UK’s long-standing Amphibious Task Group) and shape the Future Commando Force (FCF) – a new evolutionary concept for the Royal Marines.
Named the Littoral Response Group (Experimentation) deployment, the force includes the headquarters and staff of Commodore Rob Pedre, the Commander Littoral Strike Group, flagship HMS Albion, destroyer HMS Dragon and amphibious support ship RFA Lyme Bay.
“This deployment will provide high-readiness, forward-deployed options, provide strategic reassurance to our allies and partners, deter malevolent actors, strengthen NATO, and conduct wide-ranging defence experimentation,” he said.
“We will test cutting-edge technology and innovative concepts such as the Future Commando Force and the Littoral Strike Force concept to ensure our war-fighting edge in an era of constant competition.”
In addition to the ships, the Future Commando Force will be represented by elements from the specialist raiding units of 47 Commando, Marines of 42 and 40 Commando based in Plymouth and Taunton, and the intelligence experts of 30 Commando Information Exploitation Group (Plymouth), and Wildcat helicopters from the Commando Helicopter Force at RNAS Yeovilton.
A series of workouts through the autumn will build on cold weather trials and training conducted by the Royal Marines in Norway earlier this year.
The task group will also support NATO’s Mediterranean security operation Sea Guardian and conduct exercises in Cyprus – Olympus Warrior and Autonomous Advance Force 3.