42 Commando hone Maritime Boarding tactics

In the Middle East, 42 Commando have been perfecting their board and search/protection skills alongside the US Marines’ equivalent, FASTCENT.

The Americans invited the Protection Team from 42 Commando – currently attached to support ship RFA Cardigan Bay – to make use of dedicated training facilities in Bahrain and keep both elite units at the top of their game.

As part of a shake-up of the Royal Marines, 42 Commando have assumed the protection of British warships and auxiliaries mantle from 43 Commando in Faslane – allowing the latter to concentrate on safeguarding the UK’s nuclear deterrent.

The Bickleigh-based Royal Marines are now the ‘go-to guys’ for ships conducting maritime security operations in potentially hostile situations.

The FASTCENT – Fleet Anti-terrorism Security Team Central Command – marines are responsible for providing security at US embassies, consulates and other key US Government sites in the Middle East, and also deploy when needed to tackle terrorist activity.

It’s the task of 42’s protection teams to secure a suspicious vessel, allowing a Royal Navy boarding team to conduct the search part of board and search in safety – such as HMS Dragon’s recent record-breaking drugs busts in the Indian Ocean.

Various mock-ups of ships, containers and compartments such as the ‘ship in a box’ facility at HMS Raleigh in Cornwall are used to train sailors and commandos assigned to VBSS – Visit, Board, Search and Seize – duties.

And the facility is mirrored in Bahrain – where empty containers like these are ideal for perfecting close quarters battle drills.

The marines from the two Corps shared techniques, tech, and weaponry as they worked through various scenarios, clearing the containers of terrorists/pirates/smugglers.