HMS Bulwark and HMS Ocean set sail for Cougar 15 deployment

Two of the Royal Navy’s largest warships have set sail from Plymouth to lead the Royal Navy’s Cougar 15 Deployment.

HMS Ocean deployed with Royal Marines from 45 Commando and Merlin, Apache and Chinook helicopters from the Fleet Air Arm, Army Air Corps and RAF, where the Navy’s helicopter carrier will join a task group of 70 warships from across NATO and host the task force commander Rear Admiral Tony Radakin.

Joining her will be HMS Bulwark who sails with armoured amphibious Vikings and support vehicles on board and will embark 100 extra Royal Marines and an additional staff of over 100 specialist personnel required to command the task group and its activities. 

Cougar is the annual deployment of the UK’s high readiness maritime joint expeditionary force aimed at demonstrating the Royal Navy’s ability to keep Britain safe and improve her economic security by being able to deploy a highly effective maritime force anywhere in the world. 

The Cougar deployment, with its participation in Trident Juncture, is a hugely important task for HMS Bulwark and the Royal Navy.

Captain Nick Cooke-Priest

Captain Nick Cooke-Priest, the commanding officer of HMS Bulwark, said: “The Cougar deployment, with its participation in Trident Juncture, is a hugely important task for HMS Bulwark and the Royal Navy. 

“Our departure marks the culmination of two months of maintenance and preparations by my ship’s company to ready HMS Bulwark for a deployment that will be intense, challenging and rewarding in equal measure.”

The deployment comprises a series of demanding exercises designed to ensure that NATO allies are ready to deal with any emerging crisis, from any direction, and that they are able to work effectively with partners in tackling any crisis.  The exercises will reach a climax with Trident Juncture.

Exercise Trident Juncture 2015 will be held through October and November, mainly in, over and on the seas around Portugal, Spain and Italy.  Trident Juncture provides the ideal chance to train with and work alongside navies from NATO allies and partner nations in the region. 

The Royal Navy’s Maritime Battle Staff will use the event to prepare to command the naval element of the NATO Response Force in 2016, as NATO prepares for the many challenges that face its member states.

Over 36,000 personnel from 30 nations will take part – that includes NATO Allies as well as seven partner nations. And those partner nations are Australia, Austria, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Finland, the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, Sweden and Ukraine.