More than 20 ships and over 300 British, Greek and US Marines led by HMS Ocean, participated in storming Crete for the Greek Navy’s main autumn war games.
The Greeks host Exercise Niriis to test a sizeable international naval force and its ability to respond to a major crisis in the region – not unlike the Turkish exercise HMS Ocean and the NATO group she leads has just completed. The 2017 incarnation of Niriis involved ships/aircraft/personnel from Greece, Italy, Bulgaria, Israel, the USA and the UK say the Royal Navy.
“The UK contribution was significant: helicopter carrier Ocean, survey vessel/minehunter mother ship HMS Enterprise, over 150 personnel from Bravo Company, 40 Commando and soldiers from 24 Regiment Royal Engineers and 29 Regiment Royal Artillery, Wildcat helicopters from 847 Naval Air Squadron and Merlins from 820 and 845 NAS.
As part of a fictitious UN force they had to conduct boarding operations, deter and interdict illegal activity at sea, building up to an amphibious assault which paved the way for a safe extraction of civilians from Cretan soil.”
Greek, Royal and US Marines were embedded in each other’s units as they carried out combined reconnaissance patrols and raids leading up to the final main effort.
“Niriis has provided an invaluable opportunity to conduct large-scale amphibious operations with both US and Hellenic Marines,” explained Oceans amphibious operations officer Lieutenant Colonel Tony Lancashire.
“It’s meant a range of mission types from small-scale reconnaissance to simultaneous company raids and a unit level assault which really enhanced our ability to operate successfully with one another.”