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26 February 2020
Royal Marines are on amphibious commando raids from the fjords of northern Norway as part of challenging winter training.

Ahead of stepping off on Exercise Cold Response – the UK’s largest Arctic deployment in nearly a decade – Green Berets of 45 Commando and 47 Commando have combined to raid along the frozen Norwegian coastline.

This is all in preparation for further raids inland as part of the Norwegian-led Cold Response 2020, which will see around 15,000 troops from ten nations test themselves on the seas and along the demanding Arctic shoreline.

These latest missions saw commandos take on well-defended coastal locations, used by the ‘enemy’ to control vital supply lines into the Nordic country.

The key for the raids, which are being conducted during the day and under the cover of darkness, was keeping the element of surprise before destroying infrastructure in a coordinated attack.

The small, fast raiding craft of Plymouth-based 47 Commando took a force of marines ashore using Offshore and Inshore Raiding Craft, while others moved into position on skidoos before the assault on the enemy stronghold.

“Amphibious raids are the commando forces’ bread and butter. As the UK’s elite amphibious troops, we’re one of the few nations in the world that has a genuine ship-to-shore capability,” Warrant Officer First Class Nicholas Ollive Royal Marines said.

“Although conducting these sorts of missions may be second nature to some of our people, that’s no reason to rest on our laurels; regular training in difficult conditions ensures that we remain at the top of our game.

“This is even more important in the Arctic where the consequences of a mistake can be even more serious and the meaning of the phrase ‘train hard fight easy’ becomes self-evident.”
These raids and those coming up on Cold Response will see Royal Marines continue to experiment with Future Commando Force tactics.
They will work in small teams designed to disrupt and incapacitate threats.
“As the unit prepares for Exercise Cold Response, we can look forward to some challenging training that will push our people in this unforgiving environment,” added WO1 Ollive, 45 Commando’s Regimental Sergeant Major.
“Part of our training is experimenting with the Future Commando Force concept – operating in small teams deep within the enemy’s backyard to have a disproportionately deadly effect; tactics which are perfectly suited to raiding operations.
“Operating in the Arctic is part of 45 Commando’s DNA – they were the first unit to specialise in cold weather warfare in the 1970s and have regularly deployed to Norway since.
“The specialist skill-set which the Royal Marines offer is almost unique among the NATO countries and 3 Commando Brigade’s involvement in Cold Response is considered a force-multiplier.”
Ships, helicopters, armoured vehicles, commando units, medics and specialist raiding craft are all committed to the Norwegian-led Exercise Cold Response.
More than a thousand Royal Marines have been in the region since January on Arctic training missions building up to Cold Response and will launch on amphibious raids as the tip of the task group’s spear.

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28 February 2020
Royal Marines have parachuted ‘deep behind enemy lines’ during demanding winter exercises in Sweden with forces from the United States Airforce.

The elite Surveillance Reconnaissance Squadron of 30 Commando Information Exploitation Group were training alongside the Americans in capturing positions from the air from an adversary, giving allied forces a foothold in enemy territory.

This is all part of the Norwegian-led Exercise Cold Response, which 15,000 troops from ten nations are involved in, including more than 2,000 Royal Marines and Royal Navy sailors.

These Arctic exercises are designed to test the ability of allied nations in fighting in one of the most unforgiving regions on earth.

The elite SRS Commandos and airmen from the United States Tactical Air Control Party (TACP) boarded an American C-130J Super Hercules from the 37th Airlift Wing at Bardufoss Air Station in northern Norway.

The crack force were then dropped into Kiruna Airfield in Sweden, where they were tasked with seizing the area from an enemy force.
Following that the Super Hercules returned to Bardufoss to pick up the next wave of commando forces along with kit and equipment to support the mission in Sweden.

After the initial phase of the exercises, the Royal Marines of Plymouth-based 30 Commando and American forces are now undergoing battle preparation in readiness for the next stage of the combined exercise.

It will see the forces travel 150km on skidoo and specialist lightweight cold weather vehicles back to Bardufoss. On the way they will undertake various exercises, taking key positions from ‘enemy’ forces to give the overall Cold Response task forces an advantage.

This training is all designed to demonstrate the capability of SRS as an elite advance force, capable of wreaking havoc and forging the way for much larger forces to enter into a disputed territory.

HMS Prince of Wales (R09) viewed from the Liver Building, Liverpool, 1 March 2020

HMS Prince of Wales in Liverpool

HMS Prince of Wales emerges from the fog on the Mersey

HMS Prince of Wales arriving into Liverpool

Sailors man the rails of HMS Lancaster as she leaves HMNB Portsmouth on deployment.
03 March 2020
It’s British pie week, so here’s great news about the Navy’s favourite pie… Magpie.

After a hectic first 18 months of port survey work – notably around Barrow, where the nation’s nuclear submarines are built, and Portsmouth Harbour to ensure the specially-created channel for the two new aircraft carriers hadn’t silted up – the 37-tonne craft crossed the Tamar and was handed over to UK Docks Marine Services – Mashfords in Cremyll (within sight of Devonport’s South Yard) for her annual service and repair.

The time out of the water on the slipway has allowed shipwrights and Magpie’s dozen crew access to her hull to give it a thorough clean. This most comprehensive maintenance period since commissioning allowed a number of updates to be carried out to her systems and modifications to her endurance and living/working conditions.

Magpie is the Navy’s newest, and smallest, survey vessel, permanently assigned to inshore work – gathering data for the UK Hydrographic Office in Taunton on key civilian and military ports around Britain to ensure the safety of all mariners.

Once post-revamp training is complete, Magpie will spend the bulk of the spring and summer working along England’s south coast, hopefully fitting in a visit to her affiliated town of Salcombe in Devon along the way.

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02 March 2020
Royal Marines and Royal Navy aviators are working alongside the British Army’s Apache attack helicopters during winter exercises in the Arctic Circle.

Commandos on the ground are able to call in air support from the potent Apaches, which have been working alongside Commando Helicopter Force Wildcats from 847 Naval Air Squadron in the build up to more sorties on Exercise Cold Response.

In the prelude to Cold Response, commandos worked closely with the Apaches of 656 Squadron on close air support training, while CHF Wildcats used their reconnaissance skills set to track down targets for the Army fliers to come in and destroy.

After making its Arctic debut in 2019, the latest landmark in the Apache’s Arctic missions have seen them fire their Hellfire missiles inside the Arctic Circle for the first time.

For 656 Squadron, the deployment has been focused on proving its warfighting ability after the Apache made its Arctic debut in early 2019 and leaning on the Arctic flying experience of Commando Helicopter Force.

Officer Commanding Major Huw Raikes said: “Last year the squadron learnt how to operate the Apache in the Arctic.

“The extreme cold presents unique differences to the way we operate but we developed ways to overcome the human, engineering and flying challenges.

“This year we have developed news way to fight the aircraft. This has relied immensely on the support of the Royal Navy’s Commando Helicopter Force, who have a long experience of operating in the Arctic that has been generously shared.

“Firing Hellfire missiles for the first time is a significant milestone in proving the capability of the aircraft in this environment; it’s an achievement that everyone in the Squadron has contributed to and can be rightly proud of.

“We’re now looking forward to flying in support of the Royal Marines and our NATO partners on Exercise Cold Response.”
656 Squadron is ready on standby with their Apaches to strike from the air in support of Royal Marines during the Norwegian-led Cold Response, which 15,000 troops from ten nations are involved in.

The Hellfire is a precision missile used to strike ground and maritime targets; the Apache is able to carry up to 16 missiles.

The live fire ranges saw groundcrew establish a Forward Arming and Refuelling Point (FARP) – the military equivalent of a Formula 1 pit stop – to load missiles and 30mm cannon ammunition on to Apaches. Wildcat battlefield reconnaissance helicopters provided target identification and designation with their powerful suite of sensors, with the missiles fired at barges both moored and moving in the Norwegian Sea.

Aviation communications specialist Lance Corporal Joshua Bulpin said: “The Arctic is a very demanding environment and, given our role, it’s vital that we have the experience of working in it. Under turning rotors it can get down to -40°C and the extra clothing means it’s that bit harder and slower if I have to work on a radio. To maintain communications with the aircraft, I have to factor in the different terrain and atmospheric conditions and have learnt a lot.”

HMS Prince of Wales was in Liverpool last are some awesome photos. I got these on skyscrapercity. But the photos were found on, @seelbev, @shootliverpool, @rondaviesphoto


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