HMS Bulwark visits Pakistan

The Royal Navy’s Fleet Flagship HMS Bulwark has paid a short visit to Pakistan while deployed as part of the UK’s Response Force Task Group.

The ship arrived in Karachi to demonstrate her amphibious skills to the Pakistan Marines with J Company, 42 Commando Royal Marines, and 4 Assault Squadron Royal Marines (ASRM) explaining how they work on board.

The ship’s company also had the chance to chat with Pakistan Navy personnel who have recently returned from counter piracy operations in the Middle East.

Commodore Paddy McAlpine, Commander United Kingdom Task Group, and Captain Andrew Burns Royal Navy, Commanding Officer HMS Bulwark, met with the Commander of the Pakistan Marines Commodore Waris.

Issues under discussion included the tactical techniques used by boarding teams when searching vessels at sea, and the challenges faced by assigned forces during counter-piracy operations. 

Commodore McAlpine said: “The opportunity to visit Karachi came at quite short notice and was driven by a programme change elsewhere. That is what a forward deployed Task Group gives – maritime and political choice.

“In this instance, we were sent to Karachi to boost the bi-lateral Defence and Security relationship with Pakistan. We were overwhelmed by their generosity and the genuine warmth of their welcome. We were very well hosted and protected at a difficult time; a very worthwhile, but all too short, visit.”

The British High Commission in Pakistan also hosted a reception on board HMS Bulwark for a variety of military and business leaders. Guests included Rear Admiral Khan Hashan Bin Siddique, Commander Pakistan Fleet, who as a Britannia Royal Naval College graduate reflected positively upon the rare opportunity to visit a British warship while in his own Fleet port.

We were overwhelmed by their generosity and the genuine warmth of their welcome. We were very well hosted and protected at a difficult time; a very worthwhile, but all too short, visit

Commodore Paddy McAlpine, Commander United Kingdom Task Group

British Defence & Military Advisor, Brigadier Paul Cartwright said: “We are pleased to welcome HMS Bulwark and its crew to Pakistan. Their presence here is a practical demonstration of the Royal Navy’s long and proud association with the Pakistan Navy and also re-enforces our Government’s commitment to strengthen further the bi-lateral relationship between our two countries.

“Our Naval assets are heavily committed across the globe and it is therefore a clear statement of the importance we place on UK/Pakistan relations that HMS Bulwark has visited Karachi.”

HMS Bulwark has recently taken part in maritime and amphibious exercises with the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, United Arab Emirates and Oman. She is part of the Royal Navy’s Response Force Task Group (RFTG) and on a four-month deployment called Cougar 13 alongside HMS Illustrious.

The RFTG is the United Kingdom’s high readiness maritime force, comprising ships, submarines, survey vessels, aircraft and a landing force of Royal Marines, which stands at short notice to act in response to any contingency tasking if required by government.

Each year the RFTG deploys for four months to practise their skills as a group – with the Lead Commando Group Royal Marines embarked for their amphibious warfighting capability.

The Cougar 13 deployment, which left in August, has so far worked in the Mediterranean, Red Sea, the Gulf, and Horn of Africa. It involves exercising with partner nations, and will show the UK Armed Forces’ capacity to project an effective maritime component anywhere in the world