Royal Marines get razor sharp for close-quarters combat

Royal Marines have ensured they are razor sharp to react to crises in the Mediterranean after testing their close-quarters combat skills in Crete.

The marines from Plymouth-based 42 Commando are 3 Commando Brigade’s experts in maritime security operations and have teams on Royal Navy warships around the world held at high-readiness to respond to emergencies. 

Support Company are currently in the Med as part of the Littoral Response Group (Experimentation) deployment and used Crete’s coastal urban training area to test their ability to fight in tight confines – replicating the narrow and cramped conditions of a ship or a built-up area.

The commandos were tasked with clearing through a village, testing tactics and techniques used in close-quarters combat after landing from RFA Lyme Bay. The training also included boarding and clearing of suspect vessels in preparation for missions around the Med.

At the same time, Commando Wildcats from 847 Naval Air Squadron launched from landing ship Lyme Bay for training over the island’s mountains.

The Commando Helicopter Force fliers spent the first part of this year flying in the freezing climes of the Arctic, but have swapped the ice for the Mediterranean sun – something that poses different challenges to the frozen north. 

With strong winds and high temperatures, the RNAS Yeovilton-based Wildcat crews put their aircraft through its paces, practising attack runs using the on-board .50 calibre heavy machine gun and using its powerful sensors to identify ‘enemy’ positions and calling them in for fast jets to attack.

Helicopter Warfare Instructor, Lieutenant Olly Leisk, said: “Impromptu training opportunities overseas not only give us tough environments from which to operate the Commando Wildcat, but also replicate the challenging nature of operations which is more difficult back home in the UK.”

All of this was supported by the crew of RFA Lyme Bay, who worked tirelessly to deliver the Wildcat helicopters and commando forces from sea to land, and back.

The Littoral Response Group (Experimentation) is a three-month deployment to develop new tactics and try out new technology to help forge the commandos of tomorrow, as well as conducting more traditional exercises and operations.

The task group, which is led by HMS Albion and includes HMS Dragon and Lyme Bay, is working with NATO and the UK’s friends and allies in the Mediterranean and Black Sea region.

 

Impromptu training opportunities overseas not only give us tough environments from which to operate the Commando Wildcat, but also replicate the challenging nature of operations which is more difficult back home in the UK.

Lieutenant Olly Leisk