The largest Royal Navy task group in the Middle East in 15 years has assembled for Exercise Saif Sareea 3.
More than 5,500 UK personnel, including more than 1,000 sailors and Royal Marines, are taking part in the exercise – Arabic for Swift Sword – which reaches its climax next week say the MoD.
The British force has also been joined by Omani vessels.
According to a Royal Navy news release:
“The potent Royal Navy force has gathered at Duqm port and, supported by Wildcat and Chinook helicopters, is designed to fight its way through into combat and make its presence felt on land.
At the vanguard of this flotilla is Britain’s flagship HMS Albion, an amphibious assault ship designed to bring the clout of the Royal Marines to the frontlines. Alongside Albion, Dragon will use her world-class air defence capabilities to protect this fleet from multiple threats over a vast area and impose herself on the enemy.
Minehunters HMS Ledbury and HMS Shoreham have also linked up with the group, fresh from operations in the Gulf; their actions are choreographed by ‘mother ship’ RFA Cardigan Bay, which also carries supplies and fuel to sustain the small vessels for longer periods. Cardigan Bay’s sister RFA Lyme Bay is weighing in in her more traditional role as an amphibious support ship, carrying troops, raiding craft, kit, and a Wildcat helicopter to where they’re needed most during 28 days of war games.
Once the commandos are ashore, Lyme Bay is able to sustain the commandos’ thrust into the Omani desert with deliveries of equipment and ammunition. That drive into the sands by the green berets of 40 Commando – normally based at Norton Manor just outside Taunton – will be aided by the Royal Marines’ Viking armoured vehicles, plus artillery pieces and engineering equipment to aid attacks on targets on shore.”