More than 2,000 military personnel from both sides of the Channel – including destroyer HMS Dragon, amphibious ship RFA Lyme Bay, minehunter HMS Chiddingfold, Royal Marines from 45 Commando, raiding craft from 539 Assault Squadron and RAF Chinooks – are involved in the fortnight-long exercise Catamaran 18.
Hornblower readers, look away.
Played out along a 130-mile stretch of the French coast between Quiberon Bay to La Rochelle and involving 14 warships and support vessels, the exercise is the latest in a series this decade which have tested the combined amphibious forces of Britain and France to work hand-in-hand.
According to the Royal Navy, the goal is to create a real-word Combined Joint Expeditionary Force, able to respond to global events – conflict or humanitarian – should Paris and London decide intervention is needed, from 2020 onwards.
“As a big stepping stone to that goal, the French-led exercise allows personnel to share ideas, tactics and capabilities, test joint planning and communications, thus ensuring the success of any future Anglo-French amphibious task force and strengthening the strong bonds that already exist between the UK and France.”
“It has been a good experience working with the French Marines, they are a professional force. The only problem we have encountered has been the language barrier, but we are working around that,” said Marine Scuneman from X Company.