Marines forced to cancel landing with the French

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THE Royal Marines have been forced to cancel their biggest amphibious landing for more than a decade after their French allies pulled out.

The Royal Navy had spent £1m in fuel getting to the Red Sea when the operation was called off.

And it cost another £1m to reach the Gulf of Oman, where a new exercise was hastily arranged for the Marines.

More than 1,500 commandos had been in training to storm the shoreline of Djibouti – with 500 French Troupes de Marine ready to back them up.

Navy sources said the decision to cancel was taken by the French after a breakdown in relations over ‘administrational issues’.

Around 600 Marines had sailed to the Red Sea aboard a fleet of 12 Royal Navy ships belonging to the UK’s newly-formed Response Force Task Group.

The fleet was led by the Portsmouth-based aircraft carrier HMS Illustrious, and also included the frigate HMS Westminster.

A navy source said: ‘Everyone is gutted.

‘Djibouti had been chosen to stage the amphibious landing because there was nowhere in Britain big enough for so many Marines to come ashore.’