British flagship HMS Albion helped ‘evacuate’ Cyprus as the UK’s military planners tested their response to an international humanitarian crisis.
The Royal Navy say that amphibious assault ship HMS Albion served as the hub for commandos, landing craft and helicopters as they used the Mediterranean island to practise saving civilians from chaos.
“She was joined by a small, specialist team of military personnel – the Joint Forces Headquarters – who are often the first Brits on the ground following a global emergency, working side by side with other government departments and embassies. This year, they played a key role in evacuating Britons – and other nationalities – from China, Cuba and Peru during the initial wave of Covid.
And they helped the British Embassy establish a new base in the Lebanon after its original building was damaged by the huge explosion in August. Exercise Aquatic Nexus was just one of nine exercises crammed into a punishing couple of weeks by the UK’s amphibious task force, the Littoral Response Group, some focused on more traditional use of naval power (such as the evacuation), others concentrating on developing new tactics and using the latest tech to transform the Royal Marines into the Future Commando Force.”
The Royal Navy has been called upon to evacuate British and other civilians from the Lebanon in 2006 and Libya in 2011 amid widespread unrest/civil war. This time, a similar, fictitious scenario played out in Cyprus, with Albion sent in to safely evacuate embassy personnel in the face of growing disorder ashore.
Commander Rory West, who led the exercise, was quoted as saying:
“After 18 months in the HQ with operations under my belt that include the Bahamas and evacuations from Wuhan and Cuba, this is the first opportunity that I have had to lead a team onboard a warship. This is the first time the headquarters have been able to exercise the ability to conduct an evacuation operation from sea in over five years. With full support from the sailors and marines onboard, it has been a pleasure to be able to contribute to the experimental nature of the deployment.”