Royal Navy and Royal Marines at heart of UK showing in Estonia

Topic: Fighting armsRoyal Marines Storyline: HMS Albion

A Royal Navy task group has been at the heart of an exercise showing the UK’s commitment to security in the Baltic Sea as the largest NATO training in the region this year gets underway.

The nation’s amphibious flagship HMS Albion linked up with Challenger 2 tanks, Apache gunships and Wildcat helicopters from the Army, and RAF Typhoons to demonstrate Britain’s commitment to Estonia and the Baltic region.

Plymouth-based Albion is leading an amphibious task group (Littoral Response Group (North)) in the Baltic and are now participating in the annual NATO-led exercise, Baltops.

Before that, the task group to train together with already deployed units in Estonia as part of the UK’s enduring training programme, Operation Cabrit – bringing together land, sea and air forces.

They chose the headland at Paldiski – a couple of dozen miles west of the Estonian capital Tallinn – for the combined demonstration.

RAF Typhoon fighters, plus Army Air Corps Apaches and Wildcats – currently deployed to Tapa in Estonia rather than their regular bases at Wattisham and RNAS Yeovilton – flew in a tight formation overhead.

And on the water Royal Marines transported the Queen’s Royal Hussars and their main battle tanks from the shore into HMS Albion’s cavernous dock to be off loaded – a rare sight and opportunity to show how British Army tanks can be moved by the Royal Navy’s amphibious experts.

Captain Marcus Hember, HMS Albion’s Commanding Officer, said: “It is not often when the Royal Navy, RAF and Army are in the same place at the same time with major assets.

“This gave us the opportunity to test how we can work together on the sea. Proving again that the Royal Navy can move Army heavy equipment on and off a shoreline whilst being safely covered air by the RAF and Army Air Corps.’ 

In addition to the combined land-sea-air workout around Paldiski, X-Ray Company of 45 Commando – normally based in Arbroath in north-east Scotland – deployed ashore from HMS Albion for training on an Estonia range, culminating in a day of live-firing exercises.

The commandos tested various weaponry, including Javelin anti-tank missiles, grenade machine-guns, mortars and heavy machine-guns.