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Royal Navy Task Group Heads for Red Sea

High seas firings with LCU'S and LCVP'S and cross training with LPD'S(Landing Platform Dock) Johan De Witt and Rotterdams landing craft, during EX Egemen off the coast of Greece
Task force of ships involving British,American,Dutch and Turkish Navies that have been playing a part in EX Egemen, in Doganbey in Turkey
Task force of ships and Marines involving British,American,Dutch and Turkish Navies that have been playing a part in EX Egemen, in Doganbey in Turkey

A Royal Navy Task Group which forms the biggest deployment to the Far East in more than a decade is preparing to head into some of the busiest sea lanes of the world, notorious for pirate attacks.

The 12 ships and Royal Marines of TAURUS 09 left the UK in February and have been undertaking a period of training and multi-national exercises in the Mediterranean, practicing amphibious and anti-submarine warfare in large-scale exercises off the coasts of Cyprus (WADER) and Turkey (Ex EGEMEN), as well as conducting maritime security operations.

The Task Group has reduced in numbers for Phase Two but maintains its full capability to transit through the Red Sea, the Gulf of Aden and the Indian Ocean, culminating in an intense, multi-national training package in the primary jungles of Brunei. This will provide crucial training for the Royal Navy and its Royal Marines, many of whom have more recently been serving in a land environment during operations in Iraq and Afghanistan. Riverine training will also be conducted with the Bangladeshi Navy, the first such interaction in more than a decade.

Speaking from his flagship HMS Bulwark as Phase One draws to an end, Commodore Peter Hudson CBE ADC, Commander UK Amphibious Task Group said:

“The main objective of the first phase of this deployment was to exercise the UK’s Amphibious Task Group in a testing, challenging multi threat environment – for both the ships and the Royal Marines.  In completing Exercise Egemen with our US, Dutch and Turkish partners we have fully achieved this, enabling nearly 2500 Royal Naval personnel to hone their skills, to refine procedures and to demonstrate what a powerful capability the Amphibious Task Group can deliver.  It has been a very successful period which sets the right tone of the next phase of work in the Indian Ocean”.

TAURUS 09 aims to maintain the Royal Navy’s fighting capability as well as develop the UK’s capacity to operate with key partners and allies from NATO countries and other nations, enhancing interoperability and demonstrating the UK’s commitment to the stability and security of the Mediterranean, Middle East and South East Asia. In exercising its ability to deploy globally, the Task Group will remain available for a range of potential missions as required, such as anti-piracy, humanitarian aid and disaster relief.

The Task Group sailed from the UK with 12 ships, including a US Navy destroyer and a French Navy frigate, a nuclear powered submarines, Royal Marines from 40 Commando in Taunton, the Fleet Diving Unit, Assault Squadron Royal Marines from Plymouth, elements of 820 and 857 Naval Air Squadrons (NAS) from RNAS Culdrose, 847 NAS and Commando Helicopter Force (CHF) Sea Kings based in Yeovil and Support Helicopter Force Chinooks from 18 Squadron, RAF Odiham. It will be joined by ships, troops and aircraft from other nations as it transits towards South East Asia.

The Task Group is expected to return in August 2009.