May 7, 2021 – More than 1,000 sailors and Royal Marines are heading on a three-month mission to the North Atlantic and Baltic at the beginning of a new era of commando operations.
This is the first deployment of the Littoral Response Group (North) task group, which is the first of two forces – centered around Royal Marines and amphibious ships – that will regularly carry out operations in areas of interest to the UK, providing reassurance to allies and deter potential adversaries.
In the coming months they will be involved in US-led exercises in Norway and participate in NATO’s BALTOPD, the largest multinational exercise in the Baltic Sea.
This task group is made up of amphibious assault ship HMS Albion and landing dock RFA Mounts Bay, plus Type 23 frigate HMS Lancaster, Wildcat helicopters from 847 Naval Air Squadron, and Royal Marines from 45 and 30 Commando.
Captain Simon Kelly Royal Navy, task group commander and Commanding Officer of HMS Albion, said: “The Littoral Response Group will be training alongside our NATO allies and regional partners on our deployment into the North Atlantic and Baltic Sea region this spring.
“With two major exercises, including the 50th anniversary of NATO’s BALTOPD, it is shaping up to be a busy deployment.
“We are excited to be part of the development and delivery of the vanguard Littoral Response Group, as announced in the recent Integrated Review, which will project a more sophisticated, persistently engaged, and lethal commando force.”
For many of the sailors and marines, this is their first military deployment after training.
AB Ben Tovey, 25, a newly-qualified Warfare Specialist on Albion, said: “I joined the Royal Navy a year ago wanting to have a job with more purpose.
“This deployment holds a lot of firsts for me, with HMS Albion being my first ship and my first time at sea; the ship already feels like an extended family.
“I’m excited to be part of the large international exercises and being involved with testing new weaponry and equipment.”
Littoral Response Group (North) deploys at the same time as the UK Carrier Strike Group, as they prepare to work alongside NATO allies and regional partners in the Mediterranean, the Middle East and Indo-Pacific regions.
Under plans announced in the recent defense review, there will eventually be two Littoral Response Groups regularly deployed in regions of strategic importance to the UK, one with a focus on European waters and the other looking to the east and south of the Suez Canal.
They are designed to put the UK’s commando forces in forward positions, where they will be able to react quickly to any crises but also continually work with allies.
This is part of the Future Commando Force modernisation, which returns Royal Marines to raiders from the sea, equips them for a new era of combat and places them in forward positions important to UK security.