Royal Marines engineers hit the shores of western Scotland to test deployment capabilities.

The boat group from Plymouth’s 539 Assault Squadron deployed two hovercraft, eight ORC raiding craft/gunboats, and eight inflatable raiders with all their supporting kit in five days.

According to the Royal Navy in a press release this morning:

“Exercise Raging Torrent sought to put that to the test in the wilds of the Highlands – about as far from regular engineering support available at the squadron’s base in Devonport as you can get. It took the team of 13 engineers – a mix of commando vehicle mechanics and Royal Navy marine and weapon engineers – two days to reach the Kyle of Lochalsh and neighbouring Loch Kishorn in their military convoy of trucks, vehicles, a mobile workshop – a container on the back of a truck quipped with a lathe, pillar drill and various hand tools – with its own power plant, and a newly-introduced specialist crane to launch and recover the craft.

They set up camp on the shore at Kishorn, just ten miles away as the crow flies, but a two-dozen-mile trek by road thanks to the winding roads and inlets of Scotland’s west coast. And a good thing they did because the beaches of the western Highlands proved to be troublesome for the craft. Rather than sand, the foreshore on Loch Kishorn consists of large pebbles, stones which were sucked into the jet drive intakes – causing the ORCs, normally with a top speed of nearly 40kts, to run much more slowly; the engineers and their mobile workshop fixed the problem.

And some of the beaches and landing sites proved to be unsuitable for the hovercraft – in Royal Marines terminology, LCACs (‘el cacks’ or Landing Craft Air Cushioned) – one of which became stuck and needed rescuing. That was a job for the new Support Vehicle Recovery and its powerful crane… except that first a line had to be connected to the hovercraft, forcing L/Cpl ‘Tuppers’ Tupman to struggle for 80 metres through knee-deep mud to attach the wire to the stranded craft. Once lifted to safety it was quickly repaired and back in the water in two hours.”



  1. Good for the RM, although how much longer we’ll have them if the RM/Para merger actually goes ahead is anybody’s guess. You hope that this The Times story is designed to aid in defending the services against further damaging cuts. But ‘Belgium with nukes’ is indeed what we risk becoming. Nothing wrong in being Belgium, if you’re Belgian, naturally – it’s just the UK can and should play a more prominent role in regional security than that.

  2. I have a plan – the last 5 governments have all loved deploying special forces so how about a 3 tier special forces group.

    1. SAS/SBS (as is)
    2. Para Recon and counter insurgency (the paras/RAF Reg combined)
    3. RMC

    Going forward there will be no direct entry into 1 or 2 with the only direct entry into the Royal Marines or other force. The Paras get to keep the badge – a little used skill (parachuting) is gained by proven specialists (special forces) and the government get the force structure they actually want.

    This builds upon what we already have – but it also gives a pathway to 2 and 3 merging over time into a more homogeneous force of commandoes with the green beret denoting marine specialist and the red beret denoting counter insurgency specialist (our own little red, not green, men)

    This would give us an overall SFG of 12k personnel or a division (circa 20k) when all the support functions are added and we could build out further with the Gurkhas as jungle experts if required.

    We have some of the best elite forces in the world, but we need to find a way of structuring and merging them into a single dynamic force. All our elite forces have been stretched too much, put into infantry rotation and we need to correct this to ensure our special forces (SBS/SAS) remain at the very top of the tree.

    • unfortunately one has to think realistically in today’s world . Maybe what the government should do is look at the selection entry process for each elite force, obviously only those who meet the criteria will be selected. Then look at their capabilities. Then decide how is best to merge who with who and insert them in the tear they are suited to.

    • You were doing well until you said Gurkhas being the jungle experts. Do be brief, Pacman.. the lazy sods are no experts in anything but pulling the wool over the eyes

  3. I see the defence cut proposals have been leaked. £20 billion is a lot to save. Even I am amazed at the proposals to reduce the army to 50,000, to reduce frigates and destroyers to 12, to dispense with the assault ships and massively cut helicopters and armoured vehicles. It seems to me that we will have armed forces unsuited for an overseas role which I have no problem with but more dangerously unsuited for a home defence role. The time has come to take another look at the nuclear deterrent and to frankly stop parading around like a world power. Balanced forces comprising a well equipped home defence force and more OPV/ corvette vessels are more suited to this country’s place. But an army of 50,000 meaning a cut back of 28,000 from the current 78,000 is dangerous.

    • TH

      I have no problem cutting our cloth appropriately, but the govt lives in a fantasy world of committing our already overstretched armed forces all over the wolrd – T23 committed to the Pacific just this week.

      Whilst I want to see more spent on defence – mainly in order to create good jobs in some of the most deprived areas of the UK, whilst also giving the young from those areas an exit route, if the government really dont want to fund this service fine – just stop over committing it.

      I read this week that it will cost £10.4bn to decommission the submarine fleet – this is as a result of a number of governments not taking decisions in a timely fashion and now the costs are extreme.

      For a working army I think the minimum requirement is 110,000 not even the current 82 is enough.

      At the end of the day £40bn p.a. Is a lot of money an I want to know what it is really being spent on – as it isn’t the military force – which is an has been grossly underinvested for at least 20 years, whilst being deployed all over the world, often on dubious political tasking.

      I really am annoyed that we can send aid money to governments with nuclear weapons whilst our own troops families live in slums….. Something is not right with this country I am afraid.

  4. I like it, and just what the RN and RM should do to get public support. Like the honesty “We had problems, we fixed them, that’s what marines do”.

    I’d like to see one with Albion involved, and some invited journalists on board if there’s any spare. Never underestimate the value of public support at a time of threatened cuts, and in the case of Scotland that’s potentially 59 MPs who could put aside differences in a common cause of supporting the RM, and indeed the RN.

    Great location, many different beaches, conditions and even tides, with road access all round. Personally I’d love to see a Calmac small roro involved as well but that ain’t going to happen.

  5. What would have been impressive, if Royal had bounced from Plymouth to Scotland by sea along the coast; strategically placing Log support at set points..


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