UK's Amphibious Task Group deploys for operations

Amphibious Assault Ship, HMS Bulwark, has sailed from Plymouth under the command of the Commander Amphibious Task Group who is leading the Royal Navy’s inaugural Joint Expeditionary Force (Maritime) deployment.

This year’s major task group deployment, to the Middle East and back, will demonstrate the Royal Navy’s continued ability to deploy highly effective and combat-capable maritime forces anywhere in the world.  

The Task Group will provide a powerful forward-deployed military capability, giving HM Government a range of options to allow the UK to respond rapidly in the event of an overseas crisis.  

The deployment also demonstrates the Royal Navy’s contribution to the security and prosperity of the UK and a commitment to regional allies.  

During the deployment, exercises in the Adriatic, Arabian Seas and Arabian Gulf, will ensure the group’s readiness for contingent operations, and provide opportunities to develop relationships with NATO allies and other partner nations.

Captain James Parkin, the Captain of HMS Bulwark said, “My sailors and Royal Marines have put everything into making sure that Bulwark is ready to deploy as the Commodore’s Flagship, and as a warship in her own right, and I am hugely proud of all the work they have put in to get us to this stage.  I am confident that my people and my ship are ready to meet any challenge thrown at us in what promises to be a demanding and exciting programme.”

The Task Group is commanded by Commodore Andrew Burns OBE, the Commander Amphibious Task Group, embarked in his Flagship, HMS Bulwark. It also consists of helicopter carrier HMS Ocean, supported by the Royal Fleet Auxiliary amphibious ship RFA Mounts Bay and Ministry of Defence Strategic Ro-Ro vessel, MV Eddystone Point.

This deployment is a hugely important task for the Royal Navy, and for Defence, demonstrating our ability to deploy and operate worldwide

Commodore Andrew Burns OBE, the Commander Amphibious Task Group

Destroyers and frigates from the Royal Navy, US and French Navies will also join the force at various points during the next few months. The Lead Commando Group, from 42 Commando Royal Marines from Bickleigh, will be embarked together with a formidable air group consisting of Chinook, Merlin and Apache attack helicopters.  

As well as the staff of Commander Amphibious Task Group, the Commander of 3 Commando Brigade Royal Marines, Brigadier Jim Morris DSO, is also embarked in Bulwark, together with his deployable headquarters staff.

Lieutenant Colonel Mark Johnson Royal Marines, the Commander of the Joint Helicopter Force embarked in the Task Group, said, “the size of the air group, and the variety of modern helicopters contained therein, is what makes this joint helicopter force unique; our modern Merlin helicopters, along with Chinook and Apache aircraft, manned by aircrew and ground staff from all three Services, makes this an important step towards the Joint Force 2025 envisaged in the recent Strategic Defence and Security Review.”

HMS Bulwark herself will depart UK waters with nearly 100 extra Royal Marines from across 3 Commando Brigade – together with an additional staff of over 150 specialist personnel required to command the Task Group and its activities.  

In preparation for deployment, the ship has loaded her decks with Viking armoured all-terrain tracked vehicles, as well as numerous support vehicles, to complement the ship’s unique landing craft and other amphibious capabilities.  

Elsewhere in the Task Group, over 750 Royal Marines, British Army soldiers, RAF airmen, and civilians and officers from a range of nations, as well as additional vehicles, aircraft, weapons, and specialist watercraft, have embarked in each of the four vessels to provide the Joint Expeditionary Force (Maritime) the maximum possible additional fighting edge.

Captain Theo Hogg, Office Commanding Landing Craft for 4 Assault Squadron Royal Marines, said, “having such a wide array of amphibious shipping, and a fully embarked Commando Group, provides the Ministry of Defence with numerous options in a dangerous world.  As we have always done, the Royal Marines, and Royal Navy, is standing by to do what is required, when it is required.”

Reflecting on the importance of the first Joint Expeditionary Force (Maritime) Task Group deployment, Commodore Burns, the Commander Amphibious Task Group, said, “This deployment is a hugely important task for the Royal Navy, and for Defence, demonstrating our ability to deploy and operate worldwide, engaging closely with our allies and standing ready for whatever a deployment to an area of strategic interest to the UK can present.  I know that all of the units under my command are ready to make the most of the opportunities and challenges that lie ahead.”