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Advance Force Creeps Into Cyprus

Raider and HMS Argyll
HMS Argyll from Raider
Raiding Craft Inbound

While troops taking part in the Cyprus Wader geared up at sea for the beach assaults, a specialist Royal Marine detachment slipped ashore, unseen, undetected, preparing the land for the impending assault.

The Advance Force is a vital part of any amphibious action, providing “eyes on” the terrain inland and surveys of the beaches before the main body arrives. 

Captain Jon White RM explained: “Our first role is to find where the enemy is ashore, and then identify the beaches and helicopter landing sites for the main force – without anyone knowing we are even there.  This rehearsal has been a vital run-through, ensuring we can move troops from the Ships to the beaches, to give all the different units chance to work together and, most importantly, to ensure we can communicate all the information found from the shore to the Ships and onwards to the task group so they can plan their assault.  It has been very successful.”

The Advance Force of TAURUS 09 is made up of HMS Argyll, Royal Fleet Auxiliary Lyme Bay, the Reconnaissance Troop of 40 Commando Royal Marines, Fleet Diving Unit 2, and associated units.

This difficult, and potentially dangerous, activity has seen a variety of small fast boats, some armed and capable of up to 40 knots, being launched, recovered and launched again from the deck of the Type 23 frigate and from the floating dock of RFA Lyme Bay.

The Advanced Force Commander, HMS Argyll Commanding Officer, Commander Peter Olive RN, said: “It has been a hectic, but very rewarding, few days. To command such an array of units and to have the opportunity to see first hand just how capable and well trained they are has been a personal privilege.” 

He added “This has been a new and challenging task for HMS Argyll. A lot of planning and huge amount of work has been needed to ensure we could effectively command such a range of units in such a short time.”

At the heart of the exercise, alongside HMS Argyll sat RFA Lyme Bay. This specialised amphibious vessel can ‘flood up’ it’s stern dock, allowing boats to be launched from or return inside the Ship whilst still at sea. 

Captain Peter Farmer RFA, the Commanding Officer of RFA Lyme Bay, said: “I am very pleased to see Lyme Bay, the last of the four Landing Ship Dock Class to be launched, take part in her first major amphibious exercise and to be able to prove her worth in her primary role. The LSDAs have already proven very capable platforms in many ways outside of amphibiosity, but it is crucial that we continue to prove our capability and we are all enjoying this opportunity to do so.”