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Marines Wade In

Thousands of Royal Navy sailors, Royal Marines and airmen are taking part in a major amphibious exercise in Cyprus
Thousands of Royal Navy sailors, Royal Marines and airmen are taking part in a major amphibious exercise in Cyprus
Thousands of Royal Navy sailors, Royal Marines and airmen are taking part in a major amphibious exercise in Cyprus

Royal Marines from Taunton-based 40 Commando have been testing the waters of the eastern Mediterranean.

The Commandos, who were training on the cold beaches of the Southwest just a few weeks ago, are now off the coast of Cyprus, honing their elite amphibious skills.

The Marines conducted amphibious raids by both night and day, leaping into the surf before moving further inland to attack targets.

Marine Jon Ratcliffe, who is 29 and from Blackpool, said:

"After the challenges of operations in Afghanistan recently, it’s great to get back to working from the sea. As a Royal Marine, this is what we join up to do."

The Royal Navy’s Amphibious Task Group has now reached the eastern Mediterranean and is preparing for a multinational exercise at the end of the month. Exercise Cyprus Wader saw the Royal Marines of 40 Commando launching assaults from HMS Ocean and Royal Fleet Auxiliary Mounts Bay, borne by landing craft.

Royal Marines from 539 Assault Squadron’s Reconnaissance Team, based in Turnchapel, Plymouth, and working alongside 40 Commando, even found time to link up with the submarine HMS Talent. They practiced transferring from the submarine to their boats and also dropping from helicopters, both methods used to sneak ashore unseen and undertake a reconnaissance of a beach for Royal Marines to assault onto.

Captain Matt Pinckney, the Officer Commanding 539 Assault Squadron Royal Marines Squadron Reconnaissance Team, said:

“To be able to conduct tactical beach reconnaissance it is vital to be able to approach a beach in as covert a way as possible. The training we conducted during Exercise Cyprus Wader enabled us to practice this difficult and dangerous task.”

For many of the new Commandos it was the first time they had been involved in amphibious operations since their training. Marine Rob Collins, who is 21 and from Southampton, said:

“We learn all about amphibious operations and working as part of the Royal Navy but doing it for real is an amazing experience. We rehearse everything to the last detail and it’s a real adrenalin rush as we race towards the shore.”

Lieutenant Colonel Paul James, the Commanding Officer of 40 Commando, said:

“Exercise Cyprus Wader was a great opportunity to further develop our amphibious skills, which is what being a Royal Marine is all about. Although the sea is a bit warmer in Cyprus than Cornwall, this was all about building on our success at home and pushing ourselves even harder in unfamiliar territory.”

See more on TAURUS 09