Royal Navy task group rendezvous with French allies

The Fleet Flagship HMS Bulwark exercised with the French warship, FS Courbet, after passing through the Suez Canal on passage to the Gulf.

A Task Group made up of RN and RFA vessels including HMS Northumberland, RFA Lyme Bay and RFA Wave Ruler, are on a planned annual deployment called Cougar 14. This has been operating in the Mediterranean, and will now spend time in the Gulf working with partner nations in the region.

The Cougar 14 Task Group has already joined up with the German frigate Schleswig Holstein, which will work as an integral part of the Task Group until it sails back through the Red Sea later this year. On board HMS Bulwark is COMUKTG – Commander UK Task Group Commodore Jerry Kyd and his HQ which commands the UK’s high readiness maritime force.

The Cougar Task Group held a series of manoeuvres with the French frigate FS Courbet, practising their maritime skills with all three nations working together, before parting company as the Task Group continued east.

As two similar sized and similarly focussed Navies, opportunities like this will help prepare us for future combined operations, as we face our common security challenges.

Commodore Jerry Kyd

Cdre Kyd said: “This exercise with the French frigate Courbet is one of many examples where the UK and France are enhancing our interoperability. As two similar sized and similarly focussed Navies, opportunities like this will help prepare us for future combined operations, as we face our common security challenges.”

Under Cougar 14, elements of the Response Force Task Group deploy to the Mediterranean and Gulf regions, exercising the UK’s maritime assets and demonstrating the Royal Navy’s capacity to project an effective maritime component anywhere in the world. 

The Task Group will work closely with partner nations, enhancing interoperability, testing its flexibility, promoting the UK’s interests overseas, and demonstrating the Government’s long-term commitment to security and stability throughout the Mediterranean and Gulf regions.          

The Response Force Task Group is the United Kingdom’s high readiness maritime force, comprising ships, submarines, aircraft and a landing force of Royal Marines, at short notice to act in response to any contingency tasking if required. 

This could include providing humanitarian aid maritime security operations, Defence international engagement and supporting regional stability. The last time the Cougar Task Group deployed, HMS Illustrious was activated to sail to the Philippines to carry much needed aid for islands devastated by Typhoon Haiyan in October 2013.