Royal Marines storm a ship as they sharpen their boarding skills while deployed with HMS Queen Elizabeth's task group
RAPPELLING out of the side of a helicopter, a Royal Marine carries out a high-octane assault of an vessel.
It is just one of the adrenaline-fuelled manoeuvres being drilled by the Commandos embedded on the UK’s carrier strike group as they sail through the Mediterranean.
Small teams of green berets from 42 Commando are dotted across the Royal Navy task force, which is spearheaded by aircraft carrier HMS Queen Elizabeth.
They have a critical role to play when it comes to defending the ships while at sea, proving the military punch to intercept drug smugglers, pirates and terrorists.
But they can also be called upon to rescue downed pilots, forced to eject behind enemy lines.
One of the boarding teams – from Lima Company of 42 Commando – is deployed on Portsmouth-based frigate HMS Kent, which is helping to provide a ring of steel around HMS Queen Elizabeth.
For the Commandos on board, there have been ample opportunities to stay sharp for potential missions and hone some of their specialist skills set as boarding operators, but also work closely with Nato allies.
The highlight of which was a boarding exercise with French and Spanish vessels, which saw Royal Marines and Spanish counterparts board a French oil tanker – which played the role of a vessel transporting illegal cargo and personnel.
‘The size and complexity of the vessel made for an excellent training serial in which all members of the team performed to a high professional standard,’ Lieutenant J Weaver of Lima Company.
‘Not only were the Royal Marines boarding team involved in this training, a maritime sniper team “intercepted” the vessel and provided the boarding team with constant overwatch from a Wildcat helicopter as they “cleared” the French tanker and its crew.
‘The vessel was seized and all members of the crew secured by the Royal Marines boarding team, with an in-depth search and exploitation conducted by the Royal Navy boarding team from HMS Kent.
‘This was a great opportunity for the team to gain a greater understanding of how other nations conduct boarding operations, share our tactics, techniques, and procedures with other forces, whilst enhancing our own capability.’
The training scenario progressed to HMS Kent, with the boarding team tasked to fast rope 30ft onto the deck of the frigate in order to secure the ship, clearing through its narrow and confined spaces.
‘In addition to fast roping, the team then sharpened its close quarter marksmanship skills with a live fire shoot from the back of HMS Kent,’ added Lt Weaver.‘The shoot tested the team’s reactions in close quarters and their transitional drills between primary and secondary weapon systems.’