Navy’s key role highlighted on Environment Day
05 June 2020
Today marks World Environment Day – when the United Nations calls on the citizens of the earth to focus on protecting our environment.

The men and women of the Royal Navy play a daily role in safeguarding and monitoring the natural world around us, from localised initiatives such as beach cleans near RN bases to monitoring the build-up of plastics on Pacific islands.

And there are Royal Navy vessels dedicated to keeping a close eye on the environment such as the three fishery protection ships of the Coastal Forces Squadron, which guarantee sustainable fishing stocks in home waters and help bring rogue trawlermen to justice.

But no ship is at the forefront of environmental research and scientific study than the Navy’s sole Antarctic patrol ship, HMS Protector.
The icebreaker is currently undergoing her five-yearly refit on Teesside, before resuming her mission to the frozen continent this autumn – in time for the onset of summer in the Southern Hemisphere.

On her last season in the ice – 2018-19 – the Devonport-based ship supported the largest international scientific project currently underway in Antarctica.

British and American scientists are leading a team of experts from around the world studying the enormous (192,000 square kilometres, or roughly the size of Florida) Thwaites Glacier.

Over the past 30 years the amount of ice that has come off the glacier has nearly doubled, highlighting the need for the five-year study to fully understand the glacier.

A special ‘berth’ alongside the ice was created by the RRS Ernest Shackleton, the British Antarctic Survey’s icebreaker, to allow Protector to come alongside at one of the most remote places ever visited by a Royal Navy ship.

She helped deliver many of the supplies required to help establish the scientific mission, offloading 170 cubic tonnes of fuel (enough for more than 3,000 family cars) for the project’s generators, transports and snowmobiles, and used her 60-tonne crane to lift numerous pallets of general stores from the hold to the ice.

There was time for a spot of ‘glacier rugby’ on the ice before the ship left the scientists to conduct their research.

Those experts have just completed their second season of research, including sending a unique robot submersible under the glacier to take pictures of the underside of Thwaites and investigate how warmer ocean water is eating away at the mass of ice.

Other underwater vehicles have provided unprecedented sonar imagery of the Antarctic sea bed and given scientists a much greater understanding of how the last Ice Age ended.

When not involved in such groundbreaking work, Protector’s more regular duties are to chart the ocean around Antarctic to modern standards using her state-of-the-art sonar systems, collect data on the properties of these icy waters, deliver supplies to British Antarctic Survey research stations and support the UK’s leading role in the Antarctic Treaty System.

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Soldiers from the Light Dragoons are currently deployed in Poland on Op Cabrit, part of NATO's enhanced forward presence

Royal Marines Commando from J Company, 42 Commando during a training exercise, 2020

Gunners from 34 Squadron RAF Regiment listening to a brief before conducting a CQC training serial
August 2019, Royal Marines from 43 Commando using a unique training facility. The men and women who protect Britain’s ultimate weapon, the UK's Continuous At Sea Nuclear Deterrent Trident, are shown honing their skills fighting their way through a mock Dutch town.

Wow, that's a tight fit, how do they put that in the air fast??
UK’s operational F-35 jets mark first landing on HMS Queen Elizabeth
09 June 2020
The decks of HMS Queen Elizabeth are roaring with the sound of F-35 Lightning jets as the famous Dambusters squadron landed on the aircraft carrier for the first time today.

Pilots, engineers, cyberspace and mission support staff from 617 Squadron, the UK’s operational strike squadron, embarked the carrier over the weekend during a quick stop in Portsmouth for supplies before the aircraft themselves landed on board this afternoon.

It marks the first time 617 Squadron – famously known as the Dambusters – has fully joined HMS Queen Elizabeth as the UK prepares to deploy the next generation squadron of fighter aircraft to operate from the sea.

The F-35 jets that landed on board today will be the same aircraft that will sail next year with the ship for her maiden Global Carrier Strike Group 21 deployment.

Commander Mark Sparrow, the Commanding Officer of 617 Squadron, said: “We are excited to be on board the carrier and we have been training hard to be here.

“This is the first time the ship’s operational squadron has embarked and worked together.

“The F-35 brings next generation capability to UK Defence through its ability to find, destroy or avoid enemy air defences and enemy aircraft whilst gathering intelligence data.”

Commander Ed Phillips is the Commander Air on board HMS Queen Elizabeth. Known as ‘Wings’, Cdr Phillips is in charge of flying operations on the aircraft carrier.

He said: “Today is a significant day for HMS Queen Elizabeth on the road to delivering carrier strike operations for the Royal Navy.
“We are at the heart of a world-leading capability for the UK and will soon have on our decks two squadrons of F-35s – from the UK and US – plus the protection of a strike group made up of destroyers, frigates and support ships.”

HMS Queen Elizabeth will now enter an intense period of flying having just successfully completed four weeks of basic sea training.

The aim is to demonstrate that the jets can successfully defend the aircraft carrier by delivering combat air patrols – launching from the ship to conduct strike missions against a target – and being ready to take off at short notice.

After the initial qualification period, 617 Squadron will test their ability to work with Portsmouth-based HMS Queen Elizabeth and Merlin helicopters of Culdrose-based 820 Naval Air Squadron by conducting a number of complex training missions.

This is all in preparation for their second embarkation later in the year when the squadron will join the carrier and her task group for a large multinational training exercise with US, European and NATO partners.

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.

HMS Queen Elizabeth is due to return to Portsmouth later this month.

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Just need Tony Stark and the jetpack guy to arrive.....
I wonder what the groundcrew call this task? Giving birth? Not sure I want to think about what they call putting it away....
Having been involved with pranging an aircraft very like my avatar, into the hangar wall, in a galaxy far far away, moving that thing at sea, will not be for the feint hearted.
Just need Tony Stark and the jetpack guy to arrive.....
Seriously, just for the LOL's, we should buy 12 jetpacks, and put the RM's on the carriers with them, no-one would mess with UK if we did.
Royal Marines prepare for Caribbean missions
24 June 2020
Royal Marines have been taking part in vital disaster relief training to ensure they are ready to help islands nations in the Caribbean during hurricane season.

More than 200 Royal Marines from Arbroath-based 45 Commando have been practising rescue skills, water purification and construction methods at their base at RM Condor in preparation for potential deployment as part of Humanitarian Aid and Disaster Relief (HADR).

The essential training prepares the marines to help island populations in the aftermath of a hurricane and aid them in rebuilding their stricken communities.

“Disaster relief training is part of 45 Commando’s operation preparations to ensure that we are ready in all respects to provide aid and support to the people of the British Overseas Territories in the event of a major hurricane,” explained Major McCreton, Officer Commanding of Zulu Company.

“The UK, and the Royal Navy and Royal Marines, have world-leading HADR capabilities and experience. While we hope our skills aren’t needed, the vital training the team are undertaking means we can deploy overseas to help the Caribbean population at a moment’s notice.”

The marines are also on task to help distribute food and vital supplies to the local population; as experts in amphibious operations, the Royal Marines can access hard-to-reach areas which may be otherwise cut-off from storm damage.

Marine Sam Halliday, who took part in the HADR training said: “The training we are undertaking this week is really relevant to what we may be called upon to do in the Caribbean and I feel confident I will be able to play my part, should the need arise.”

Many of the Caribbean islands are still recovering from the effects of Hurricane Irma in 2017, a Category 5 storm where winds reached over 177mph and caused huge waves to rock the Caribbean coastline, resulting in 47 deaths.

The Royal Navy and Royal Marines were heavily involved in the ensuing HADR mission where elements of 40 Commando deployed to provide assistance. The effects of a hurricane in 2020 could be devastating for the Caribbean nations.

Royal Navy ships, including RFA Argus and HMS Medway, are on-hand during the hurricane season (June-November) to support the islanders throughout the region where needed.

45 Commando will be ready to deploy when needed and will be tested for COVID-19 before leaving the UK. HADR training was undertaken with strict COVID-19 control measures in force, including social distancing.

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