IT IS one of the Armed Forces’ biggest exercises, and sailors are playing their role onboard Portsmouth-based HMS Illustrious.
Cougar 13 tests the capability of the maritime Response Force Task Group, with several Royal Navy and Royal Fleet Auxiliary ships taking part in exercises across the Mediterranean and into the Gulf.
Albanian Lion is the first test and takes place around the Albanian city of Vlore, where Royal Marines will land and move inland through a fictional hostile state.
Able Rate (Seaman Specialist) Damien Bye, 26, from Fareham, who attended Neville Lovett School, has been in the navy for nearly five years having previously served in HMS Ark Royal before joining HMS Illustrious.
He said: ‘These deployments are always a busy time for the ships, but that’s the nature of training – we need to be ready.’