This type of training provides an opportunity to learn how we operate differently and hands on practice for our ‘core perishable skills’ – skills that if we don’t use we will lose

Captain Steve Taylor, RM

The Royal Marines ‘green’ team do the initial boarding, securing a vessel and its crew; the Royal Navy ‘blue’ team follows to conduct a thorough search.

‘Ship in a box’, which is run by the US Coast Guard who also patrol these waters, provides a unique workout for boarding teams – not just British and American, but also many Gulf nations and visiting Coalition vessels – to hone their skills in an authentic environment, even down to the use of simulated ammunition (like the real thing minus the blood).

“We are very lucky to have this so close to our ship. The facility, and the opportunity to work with other forces, provides a unique opportunity we would not otherwise have,” said Captain Steve Taylor of Somerset’s on board Royal Marine contingent.

“This type of training provides an opportunity to learn how we operate differently and hands on practice for our ‘core perishable skills’ – skills that if we don’t use we will lose.”

The combination of the realistic facility and the chance to train side-by-side with fellow marines was enjoyed by members of both Corps.

“We are lucky to be able train alongside other elite units – especially in the area of boarding and search and seizure – where they have experience and expertise we can learn from,” said US marine Lance Corporal Austen Crowder,

Royal Marine Marine Rory East added: “Even the banter is part and parcel of learning to better work together.”

Capt Timothy Stefan USMC said both teams of marines would take a lot away from their combined training. “This allows us to review tactics, exchange ideas, to fill our toolbox with more tools when we are on operations. It challenges our way of thinking, to ask ourselves, ‘Could we do this better?’”

His British counterpart Capt Taylor added: “This allows us to explore the in depth knowledge of colleagues who have significant experiences and respond to similar incidents. This can only help us perform better in future.”

The Royal Navy is building its own ‘ship in a box’ complex; the £1m facility at HMS Raleigh in Torpoint is due to open later this spring.