A USN P-8 overflies HMS Queen Elizabeth and HMS Monmouth
HMS Northumberland making a RAS approach to RFA Tideforce

RFA TideForce

HMS Mersey and HMS Tyne at anchor at Spithead

HMS Argyll and HMS Albion
The scuttling of the French fleet at Toulon was orchestrated by Vichy France on 27 November 1942 to prevent Nazi German forces from taking it over. The Allied invasion of North Africa had provoked the Germans into invading the zone libre, neutral according to the Armistice of 1940. The Vichy Secretary of the Navy, Admiral François Darlan, defected to the Allies, who were gaining increasing support from servicemen and civilians. His replacement, Admiral Gabriel Auphan, guessed correctly that the Germans were aiming to seize the large fleet at Toulon, and ordered them to be scuttled.

The Germans began Operation Anton but the French naval crews used deceit to delay them until the scuttling was complete. Anton was judged a failure, with the capture of 39 small ships, while the French destroyed 77 vessels; several submarines escaped to French North Africa. It marked the end of Vichy France as a credible naval power.

Heavy cruiser Dupleix aflame at Toulon, France, circa 27 Nov 1942

Battleship Jean Bart viewed from an aircraft of USS Ranger, Casablanca, French Morocco, 8 Nov 1942
815, 845 NAS in the Caribbean preparing for hurricane season. Surveying UK Overseas Territories - Bermuda, British Virgin Islands, Anguilla, Montserrat, Cayman Islands & Turks and Caicos Islands.

22 May 2020
Royal Marines have swapped the ice of the Arctic for the golden sands of the Caribbean as they work to minimise the spread of Covid-19 on Turks and Caicos by providing a security presence around the tropical islands.
Cold-weather and mountain specialists 45 Commando arrived in the British Overseas Territory after a demanding winter in the Arctic Circle, where they refreshed their skills as the Corps’ experts in winter warfare in the largest deployment to the high north for nearly a decade.
Marines from Zulu Company of Arbroath-based 45 were called up to help the Turks and Caicos authorities to reduce the effects of the coronavirus around the complex archipelago of 40 low-lying coral islands.
The 30-strong team of highly-trained Green Berets spent 14 days in quarantine on arriving on the islands, but now released, they join the Royal Turks and Caicos Maritime Police on boat patrols daily.
The additional manpower means more patrols can be carried out, safeguarding the population of more than 32,000 by preventing the spread of Covid-19 through the illegal movement of people.
Their presence is designed as a deterrent for such illicit activity.
The troop from Zulu Company bolster a combined Royal Marines, Royal Navy and British Army Security Assistance Team which arrived in Turks and Caicos at the beginning of April to work closely with the island’s governor and local authorities to support Covid-19 efforts.
Major Javed Johl, of the Security Assistance Team, said: “The Royal Marines troop have completed their mandatory 14-day quarantine and are now training and working alongside the Royal Turks and Caicos Police Maritime Division.
“This will allow the Maritime Division to deploy more boats, increasing their capability for counter-people smuggling operations in order to prevent the spread of Covid-19.”
A specialist from small boats specialists 47 Commando (Raiding Group) is also part of the Royal Marines team in Turks and Caicos, providing an advisory role.
The craft expert has deep knowledge on weather limitation, capability of boats and safety considerations on missions involving small boats.
The teams on Turks and Caicos are just a small part of the overall British presence in the Caribbean.
A Royal Navy task group – centred around RFA Argus and HMS Medway – is also in the region, primarily ahead of hurricane season and to counter all forms of illicit trafficking, but also to support Overseas Territories during the Covid-19 pandemic if required.
Essential training has continued across the Royal Navy during Covid-19 and 45 Commando have remained ready for operations anywhere in the world in their remit as the high-readiness Lead Commando Group.
The demand to deliver on operations – like the one marines of Zulu Company are currently deployed on – continues and, as such, further training to support this role is taking place at RM Condor as part of a phased return. Strict Covid-19 control measures remain in place to safeguard personnel, staff and the local community as this essential training continues.

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22 May 2020
RNAS Culdrose based 820 Naval Air Squadron, the “Carrier Squadron”, has re-joined HMS Queen Elizabeth to take part in Basic Sea Training and Carrier Sea Training in preparation for the carrier task group’s maiden operational deployment next year.
Aircrew, engineers, survival equipment technicians and logistics personnel have embarked with their Merlin Mk 2 helicopters as the ship is put through its paces by the Fleet Operational Sea Training (previously Flag Officer Sea Training) organisation - a rigorous test of the ship’s safety, capability and readiness to deploy. 820 NAS Commanding Officer, Commander Ian “Reg” Varley said: “I have recently taken over Command of 820 NAS and I am hugely excited and privileged to be going to sea with my team. “We were recently on call supporting the nation’s emergency services and we have just handed that over to another Culdrose squadron so that we can focus on our more traditional purpose which is to defend the UK’s aircraft carrier Task Group.
“In supporting our ships to operate anywhere they are required in the world, 820 NAS is trained and equipped to counter threats from submarines, warships and aircraft, skills that we call Anti-Submarine Warfare and Airborne Surveillance and Control.
“This training period onboard HMS Queen Elizabeth is a valuable part of sharpening our prowess and getting our people and equipment further integrated within the aircraft carrier.”
Keeping the sophisticated Merlin helicopter flying is no small task and is very much a team effort.
Leading Air Engineering Technician Danielle King who is one of the squadron’s aircraft engineers said: “The run up to a major training exercise is a busy period for us.
“The aim is to keep these aircraft capable of flying around the clock ensuring we can always keep an asset on station hunting the enemy submarine. “Our number one priority is to keep the aircraft and its crew safe and that means we need to be meticulous in our aircraft maintenance as any mistakes could be costly. “It’s hard work but a job I really enjoy doing.”

20 May 2020
Sailors of HMS Ledbury and British Army soldiers have completed rigorous training on how to defend the ship from threats while alongside.
Measures to safeguard British military assets – known as ‘force protection’ – are well-established, but this training was necessary so the Royal Navy and Army can work together seamlessly to respond to attacks.
Minehunter Ledbury is stationed in Bahrain, at the UK Naval Support Facility, where 2nd Mercian Regiment are responsible for the procedures to counter attacks on the base, those deployed there and the ships in port.
Ledbury’s crew worked with Platoon 1 to test a range of force protection skills, including a simulated intruder scenario and an attack by a drone on the ship, which caused a ‘fire and multiple casualties’ on board.
The aim of the two-day exercise was to ensure the Army element was up-to-date with how the sailors respond if the ship were to be under threat while alongside.
It was the most advanced and complex training of its kind to date.
Petty Officer Daniel Horne, who crafted the exercises with the Army’s Lieutenant Guy Nicholson, said: “Learning how to work together with the Army to achieve maximum effectiveness and security is not a skill a mine counter measure vessel (MCMV) crew practice regularly. But on a base in an operational environment, where they are the ones protecting our ships, that skill and information is vital.“I hope this exercise makes the start of increased integration between the Army and Royal Navy.”Day one gave soldiers the chance to familiarise themselves with the ship and the procedures in response to a threat or damage to the ship.
The next day saw the scenario unfold.It started with the discovery on an IED on the jetty. The device was cordoned off and secured by 1 Platoon while HMS Ledbury’s force protection teams kept watch.Meanwhile, a suspected intruder was located within the base perimeter (a role played by a mine clearance diver). He was quickly apprehended by 1 Platoon before a second intruder was suspected to have got on board Ledbury.To ensure their capture, the ship’s force protection teams joined the soldiers in swiftly clearing all compartments on board.The situation was then complicated further with a simulated drone attack on the minehunter, causing a fire and multiple casualties.While the casualties were treated and moved to safety, the ship’s company geared up to fight the fictional fire.HMS Ledbury’s commanding officer, Lieutenant Commander Matt Ellicott, added: “Joint operations is very much routine business, particularly within the Gulf. We should look for every opportunity to refine our skills and learn from each other to ensure the greatest chance of collective success – this exercise is very much at the heart of that intent.”

24 May 2020
Royal Navy helicopter crews have proved their ability to protect the UK’s aircraft carriers with a new missile system.
As sailors and marines support the current national fight against COVID-19, the Yeovilton-based Wildcat Maritime Force, which includes 815 Naval Air Squadron, is focused on ensuring the UK is prepared for future global threats.
Blasting from a Wildcat helicopter, the new Martlet missile was this week tested on a range off the coast of Wales.
In 0.3 seconds, the missile detached from the Wildcat HMA Mk2 helicopter, accelerating to one and a half times the speed of sound.

The trials mark an important milestone in the testing of the new system which will arm the Wildcat helicopters that deploy as part of HMS Queen Elizabeth’s maiden operational deployment next year.
Commander Matt Boulind Royal Navy, the Wildcat Maritime Force Commander, said: “This test firing shows the Wildcat helicopter will be ready to help defend our Queen Elizabeth-class carriers and their strike groups for years to come.
“The Royal Navy and Army introduced Wildcat helicopters into service five years ago and the firing of the Martlet this week is a very significant milestone and represents a huge success for the joint industry and MoD team.
“This firing underpins future Royal Navy offensive capability and the defence of the surface fleet.”
Managed by the Lightweight and Medium Attack Systems and Wildcat delivery teams at DE&S, and manufactured by Thales, the laser-sensor missile can be used against stationary and moving targets.
Captain Mark Langrill, DE&S Wildcat Delivery Team Leader, said it was important these trials went ahead.
“These firings mark a vital step forward in the integration of the uniquely flexible Martlet missile into what is already an outstanding helicopter to provide the Royal Navy with a world-class capability,” he added.
“I am grateful to all those, across industry and the Ministry of Defence, who have worked so hard to achieve this milestone.”
The preparation for the firing was conducted in line with current government social distancing rules due to the coronavirus, adding an unexpected hurdle for the teams involved to overcome.
Martlet, also known as the Lightweight Multirole Missile, has already been successfully launched off frigate HMS Sutherland so the latest firing was to test it in its primary role.
The firing was captured with high resolution cameras so the teams from both Thales and the Wildcat lead Leonardo Helicopters can analyse the system in minute detail.
Philip McBride, general manager of Integrated Airspace-protection Systems as Thales UK, said: “Martlet will ensure the Wildcat has the best-in-class offensive capability to protect the carrier strike group. With each helicopter capable of carrying up to 20 missiles, the Wildcats deployed will be a significant deterrent to anyone wishing to interfere with UK interests.”
Nick Whitney, Managing Director of Leonardo Helicopters, added: “This major milestone demonstrates that the combination of the AW159 Wildcat and Martlet missile will be a flexible and effective tool for the Royal Navy. Next year the Wildcat fleet will embark on Carrier Strike Group missions with HMS Queen Elizabeth on its maiden operational deployment. As the only British company to design and manufacture helicopters on-shore, we’re extremely proud to be equipping the UK Armed Forces with world-beating sovereign capabilities.’”
The Royal Navy is transforming into a force centred around carrier strike – supporting the ships as they conduct carrier strike missions, enforce no-fly zones, deploy Royal Marine Commandos, deliver humanitarian aid, and build international partnerships with our allies.

Wildcat 2 stage Martlet firing.jpg
25 May 2020
HMS Queen Elizabeth is one step closer to being able to deploy on global operations after completing the first stages of Operational Sea Training.

Over the last few weeks, the Ship’s Company have been put through their paces with simulated fires, floods and responding to battle damage, as well as carrying out warfare training and mission rehearsals.

The Portsmouth-based aircraft carrier has been at sea since late April to prove she will be ready for her maiden operational deployment next year, and the UK can deliver on its commitment to have a Carrier Strike Group ready to deploy from the end of this year.

This latest round of training has made the next big step of HMS Queen Elizabeth’s programme possible – the embarkation of the UK’s operational F35 Lightning jets.

Before the F35s join, the ship will make a planned return alongside at Portsmouth to load essential stores and kit necessary to operate the jets at sea.

The brief stop will see engineers and equipment from 617 Squadron join the carrier, ready for her return to sea and continuation of training and embarkation of the Squadron’s F35 Lightning aircraft.

All appropriate measures have been taken to ensure the health and wellbeing of the crew is protected as additional personnel join HMS Queen Elizabeth. All additional personnel are isolated for 14 days prior to boarding and tested for Coronavirus.
Last week, HMS Queen Elizabeth continued Operational Sea Training under the watchful eyes of the renowned Royal Navy Sea Training experts.
This phase is based on the survivability of a major incident at sea where the ship’s company will have to work together to overcome any emergencies or threats such as significant floods and fires.
Second in Command of HMS Queen Elizabeth Commander Charlie Guy said: “This is the first Basic Sea Training period for a Queen Elizabeth-class carrier. It is a chance for us to put to the test everything we have learnt over the last two years and show our FOST assessors we are ready for anything.”
Preparing for this stage of training saw HMS Queen Elizabeth cleaned, painted and scrubbed and equipment checked from breathing masks for fighting fires to the ship’s sea boat.
It also saw Chinook, Merlin and Wildcat helicopters land and take off from the four-and-half-acre flight deck.
The next stage will see more qualifying training for UK F35 Lightning fighter jet crews, who will be conducting practice Combat Air Patrols from her decks, giving vital experience to the aircrews and ship’s company involved in air operations.
This period at sea will prepare the ship for further training later in the year with other Royal Navy ships to ensure they are ready to deploy as a task group next year.


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