Navy at heart of NATO exercise

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Royal Navy warships are at the heart of the largest ever NATO exercise to take place off the coast of Scotland.

The ‘war games’ began today as the Navy, Army and RAF put their warfighting skills to the test.

Royal Marines on ''HMS Illustrious  in Exercise Joint Warrior.

Royal Marines on ''HMS Illustrious in Exercise Joint Warrior.

Seven warships from the UK, Netherlands and Canada sailed in formation from the East coast of Scotland round to the West today where they will join up with the rest of the task group on Tuesday.

Involving more than 40 warships, 40 fixed-wing aircraft and 30 helicopters from the UK, Netherlands, Canada, France, Denmark, Belgium, Norway, Poland, Sweden and Germany, over 12,000 personnel will be taking part in Exercise Joint Warrior.

A training exercise for Response Force Task Group, which is designed to respond at a moment’s notice to rapidly unfolding world events, this takes place twice a year in a vast arena off the coast of Scotland.

Events began on Friday at Barry Buddon beach in Barry, Carnoustie where 42 Commando Royal Marines launched an aviation assault to practise landing on the shores of a hostile nation and being ready to fight. Viking vehicles were also brought onto the shores via landing craft from HMS Bulwark, demonstrating how they would bring their equipment and support to back up the marines landed from the air.

For the Commander UK Task Group based on HMS Bulwark, Commodore Paddy McAlpine this is a chance to put into practise lessons learnt from the Royal Navy’s key exercise last year, Cougar 12. That exercise, spearheaded by HMS Bulwark and HMS Illustrious, saw the task group work first with the French off Toulon and Corsica, then with the Albanians in the Adriatic.

Cdre McAlpine said: “During Joint Warrior we will practise fighting at sea as well as fighting from the sea. We’ll practise against a demanding air, surface and submarine threat, entering a hostile environment and then deliver our landing force of Royal and Dutch marines to the right area.”