‘Relief’ as ships
THERE is a sense of relief across the entire Royal Navy that Britain’s two amphibious assault ships will be safe from military cuts, a senior Royal Marines officer has said.
In September, Defence Secretary Gavin Williamson announced he would be protecting HMS Albion and HMS Bulwark from being withdrawn from service early.
There had been speculation for months that the two ships were facing the scrapyard as the cashstrapped Ministry of Defence looked to make savings.
Commanding officer of Tauntonbased 40 Commando, Lieutenant Colonel Paul Maynard, who currently has personnel on board HMS Albion said it was great news the capability was not being axed.
“It is safe to say for the whole naval service there is relief that some very capable platforms are going to be saved,” he told the Press Association.
“We have seen time and time again that these amphibious platforms, and in particular the Royal Marines, tend to be the first resort for the Government when there is a crisis.”
The 40 Commando troops on board HMS Albion arrived in Oman last week as they prepare to take part in Saif Sareea 3 – the UK’s biggest military exercise in 17 years.
Lt Col Maynard said this year marked the third time that 40 Commando had taken part in the exercise – it was previously held in 1986 and 2001.
It was soon after Saif Sareea 2 that 40 Commando ended up being the first UK troops to be deployed to Afghanistan, where they helped to secure Bagram Airfield, near Kabul.
Lt Col Maynard said they did not know if and where they may deploy after the latest Saif Sareea, but that they were watching the world and conducting planning for all sorts of potential contingent scenarios.
He added: “We are ready to turn left or right at a moment’s notice and do what we do, but who knows what will happen?”
The last 12 months have been a busy period for 40 Commando.
Charlie Company have been onboard HMS Albion carrying out exercises and engagements in the Far East, with the rest of the unit