‘Re­lief’ as ships

Western Daily Press - - News -

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

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