Royal Navy’s Assault Ship sails to lead NATO Task Group

The Royal Navy’s amphibious assault ship, HMS Albion deployed today to become the NATO Flagship leading an international task group.

The ship sailed from Devonport Naval Base in Plymouth to head the Standing NATO Maritime Group 2 (SNMG2), operating in the Mediterranean for five months.

Captain Tim Neild, HMS Albion commanding officer, said:  “It is a huge privilege for us to fly the flag of the NATO task group commander in such a high profile deployment.

"This symbolises the importance that the UK and the Royal Navy places on our role in NATO and in assuring the collective defence and security of NATO allies and partners.’’

He thanked the families of the his ship’s company and the Devonport and wider Defence community for the huge task of getting his ship through her major upgrade and training and final preparations including loading of tonnes of stores and vehicles and military equipment.

Morale was extremely high and everyone was looking forward to being at the hub of NATO’s premier naval force. He said HMS Albion was the ideal ship for having at the ready poised in the Mediterranean for any tasking required.

In the meantime the ship would be deploying her full versatility during exercises – much like the Swiss army knife of UK defence – capable of a wide range of operations from humanitarian to ‘whites-of-the-eyes’ combat, said Captain Neild.

It is a huge privilege for us to fly the flag of the NATO task group commander in such a high profile deployment.

Captain Tim Neild

Tonnes of stores, vehicles, boats, spares, food and equipment were craned on to the massive flight deck and transported into the cavernous vehicle deck via the side ramp.  A Royal Marines group also be embarking with their equipment.

Engineering Technician Jenny Bruffell, 20, is one of many on their first ship or first deployment and said she was excited to be sailing to sea on operations, having joined the Navy from an office job where she felt unfulfilled.

This new tasking fulfills a vital contingency role for NATO in the Mediterranean. The task group will protect NATO interests by promoting security and stability in the region whilst offering options for NATO to deal with any emergent tasking.

Over the coming months, HMS Albion will undertake presence and security operations as well as conducting multi-national exercises aimed at increasing the way the navies of the task group work together.

The commander of SNMG2, Commodore Mike Utley, said: “Our role in NATO sits right at the heart of British Government policy to reinforce our commitment to international partners and their broader security.

"What better way for the UK to contribute than to lead this task group from HMS Albion - I am immensely proud to command such a highly professional and internationally diverse force.’’

HMS Albion is returning to operations after a two-year period of extensive modernisation and a programme of training and sea trials.