Royal Navy and Portuguese helicopters swooped on a vessel ‘seized’ by armed assailants during an intensive training scenario off the coast of Portugal.

The fliers of 846 Naval Air Squadron and the Portuguese 751 Squadron put into action weeks of work on tactics and procedures as they took back a Portuguese patrol ship from armed stowaways.

The Merlin helicopters carried out an assault, as troops fast roped onto the deck, rescued hostages and took back control of the ship in training designed to enhance the ability of the two NATO allies to carry out of these vital operations.

“It was great training in a new environment that really showed what is possible when specialists work together to achieve joint operations,” Lieutenant Commander David Houghton-Barnes, from M-Flight, the boarding operations – known as Maritime Interdiction – was quoted as saying.

According to the press release:

“The boarding in the Atlantic Ocean was part of significant joint training alongside the Portuguese 751 Squadron, who also fly the Merlin helicopter – which the Royal Navy deploys widely across the globe. 846 and 845 Naval Air Squadron of Yeovilton-based Commando Helicopter Force use the Commando Merlin variant of the aircraft to carry Royal Marines into operations wherever they’re needed, in all extremes of environment.

The three-week deployment of 120 members of 846 to Montijo Airbase, across the Tagus Rover from capital Lisbon, also saw student aircrew and pilots challenged across Portugal’s skies, the crowning moment of five years of toil to qualify and ‘earn their wings’ ahead of going on front-line duties. The journey itself to Portugal, more than 1,300 miles through Spain and France, was a test of critical planning for student aircrew and engineers to ensure they had correctly calculated the fuel needed to carry all personnel and equipment for the long flights between airfields.

Once at Montijo Airbase, the Merlins flew a range of missions – from dropping troops into action, carrying underslung loads and simulating hostile engagements. A notable step up in intensity work in the UK.”

Captain Jon Sutton RM was quoted as saying:

“It has been a challenging culmination of many years of rotary training and a big step up from training sorties at Yeovilton. A personal highlight has been working with Portuguese Forces to conduct aviation assaults. Carrying troops has really sharpened everyone’s focus and it’s great to fly around fellow Commandos.”

Avatar photo
George has a degree in Cyber Security from Glasgow Caledonian University and has a keen interest in naval and cyber security matters and has appeared on national radio and television to discuss current events. George is on Twitter at @geoallison
Subscribe
Notify of
guest

18 Comments
oldest
newest
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
Challenger
Challenger
3 months ago

Working more closely with nations like Portugal, The Netherlands and Norway at the fringes of Europe and often with similar security concerns makes so much sense for The UK.

Just wish we settled on a strategy and backed it with the money and resources to truly make us the leading naval power in Europe (rather than just one of the bigger players) and let Germany, Poland, France etc lead on the land based stuff.

Robert Blay
3 months ago
Reply to  Challenger

We are the leading naval power in Europe.

DH
DH
3 months ago
Reply to  Challenger

👍👌

Graham Moore
Graham Moore
3 months ago
Reply to  Challenger

Totally agree that we benefit from collaborating with our European NATO allies. Together with France we have the only Rank 2 bluewater navies in the world. So we only have France as a competitor for title of most powerful navy in Europe. We best the French in several areas – number of carriers, number of SSNs (just), but have fewer frigates. Some say we have the better navy – others will know far better than I. As far as the land side, we have not had sizable armoured forces collectively trained at the divisional level since the Cold War. Poland… Read more »

Challenger
Challenger
3 months ago
Reply to  Graham Moore

Land wise I think having a battle-group in The Baltics with the ability to scale up to a brigade is realistic and achievable. The obsession with fielding a division is unhelpful given in the last 30 years we deployed a division of only 2 brigades in 1991, 3 brigades (but including 3 Commando) in 2003 and have little-no appetite for large scale, enduring deployments anymore.

A bigger Army would be lovely, but with limited budgets (poorly spent) and tough choices a maritime tilt is the natural choice.

Graham Moore
Graham Moore
3 months ago
Reply to  Challenger

There are 2 different scenarios (Enduring op and one-shot op) : Enduring operation. Scaling our BG in Estonia up to a (framework) armoured/mech Brigade (and the Lt Cav sqn in Poland up to a regt) – would be a challenge as this is an enduring operation. We need a minimum of five similar brigades in the Orbat to generate a deployed bde on an enduring operation, rouling every 6 months. With a 73,000 strong army structured as it is, we can’t do that without recourse to the army reserves and/or RM commandos – and to accept using the wrong type… Read more »

Stc
Stc
3 months ago

Well challenger your right, but where was the navy when that British flaggged ship was seized by a group of jumped up guerrillas ?Now I have my suspicion, nothing more than that, they picked on a British flagged ship because they knew HMG would do very little. These Houtis are laughing at us and it’s high time we wiped that smile of their faces.

SailorBoy
SailorBoy
3 months ago
Reply to  Stc

Maybe reply directly to comment rather than separately?
I don’t recall the incident you are referring to, but at the moment there are 2 large escorts defending shipping against the Houthis. People pick on British ships because there are hardly any American flagged ones and it’s more embarrassing given our maritime history.

Louis
Louis
3 months ago
Reply to  Stc

Galaxy Leader has a very loose connection to the UK. No British crew, not British flagged, not British operated. It is owned by an IOM company but it was being leased anyway.

Challenger
Challenger
3 months ago
Reply to  Stc

A lot of the vessels seem to have very tenuous links to western nations due to the way they are flagged, operated and crewed. Frankly I think the Houthi’s are targeting whatever is coming through the area at random!

Tom
Tom
3 months ago

So several ‘armed stowaways’ wouldn’t have been able to beat off the helicopter assault, with a few AK’s?

Just wondering.

Spyinthesky
Spyinthesky
3 months ago
Reply to  Tom

Must admit not clear what sort of scenario such action would indeed be used unless the belligerents had already surrendered and given up their weapons. But hey ho better than no training I guess.

Greg Smith
Greg Smith
3 months ago

That’ll learn them 👍🏿

Daz
Daz
3 months ago

What people need to understand is that our Navy ie royal Marines/special forces are deployed secretly and i haven’t heard about a British ship being taken over by anyone and the reason we are training with different countries is simple we work and help eachother if say Germany had a ship being attacked or pirates took over the ship and we had personnel/ship’s etc that was closer to that said ship then we would engage and try to help just like the others countries would do the same for us.

Quentin D63
Quentin D63
3 months ago

Just wondering if any SBS sub type operations could ever sneak up under any of those seized ships in the Gulf and do a daring take on and remove these terrorists?

Donaldson
Donaldson
3 months ago
Reply to  Quentin D63

Easily I would have thought, Issue would be getting the ship underway without the land based contingent knowing and then retaliating trying to sink the ship

Paul
Paul
3 months ago

Nice to see two former naval super powers work together and make a successful coordinated mission! 🇵🇹 Portugal and Britain 🇬🇧 are the oldest allies in the world

Peter
Peter
3 months ago

Different story if for real, live bullets