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.”

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Cam Hunter

Great, I can’t wait until we have fast air from our new Aircraft carriers also involved, and the carriers are big enough to hold lots of Royal marine commandos and the commando helicopter force aswell as the F35bs, two great assets the new carriers will deliver amazingly…. world beating assets at that…..

andy reeves

a couple of sweepers, a destroyer, couple of bay class? wow what a worthy contribution that is.


not forgetting Albion, Andy…


Have to agree.

Daniele Mandelli

How can the T45 impose itself on the enemy? What apart from Harpoon does it have? The “Clout” of the RM consists of 2 battalions. Where is the armour, artillery, anti tank helicopters, and all the rest to provide this “Clout”? One Armoured Support Group of Viking ATVs and some old 105 Light Guns is very little clout. Their Wildcats are shared with 1 AAC and there are 34 of them. 34. Replacing 200 plus. I’m the last to put our military down and will always defend its capabilities and professionalism but these flowery words they are coming out with… Read more »


Hi Daniele-hope you are well. I hear what you say but it is nice to see so(relatively) many RN/RFA hulls assembled in one group. The type 45 is a very capable air defence asset for the Group and the Bays and Albion have an undeniable presence-admittedly does not make up for all the gaps but the Omani Khareefs have an anti ship capability so all round not a bad show of force.


Daniele Mandelli

Thank you Geoff. Regards to you too.

200 was a typo by the way. 100.

It was more the MoD press release mate. They do talk some tosh.

geoff some tosh..certainly do Daniele. Almost as bad as the Mail Online 🙂

andy reeves

big buggers like the bays should be armed in accordance to their sizes.


The problem is, as always manpower. There are so many people to do an ever increasing number of jobs.

Steve Taylor

This is should be the ‘standard’. We should sort of aim for a mini-MEU with extra fixed wing operated at a (slightly) less of tempo than the USN / USMC does. That’s why cutting at 42 wasn’t a good idea. The Italians are renewing their amphibious capability and the Japanese and Australians are establishing their’s.

Daniele Mandelli

Yep. Without 42 3 Commando is a Brigade in name only. Needs More CS and CSS elements. Needs at least 18 Guns not 12. Needs at least 3 manouvre units not 2. Needs extra RE Squadrons to support Commandos. Needs more than 6 Wildcat in 847! It, like 16AA, seems to have become a “container” of units rather than a deployable fully supported brigade. Courtesy of 2015 SDSR. Though to be fair it has always had just one RE Squadron in 59 until recently when more are needed. Why they cannot re assign 1 Rifles to give it some more… Read more »

Steve Taylor

Yes. A full battery (perhaps with some rockets as well as tubes). A few more Broncos / BV’s whatever. And yes engineering support. Some organic AAW beyond manpads, but I don’t know what……… The only gap I would like to see filled and which the MEU have which we don’t appear to have the correct vehicle as CVR(T) goes is a ‘cavalry’. The MEU’s use LAV which may be a bit too big for us. But then again LAV is a small vehicle. I don’t think the two car Bronco / BV is the thing either. But 8 or so… Read more »

Daniele Mandelli

One of the Squadrons of the HCR was onetime earmarked to support 16 AA Bde, so no reason why they cannot allocate one for 3 Bde.

RM have the Armoured Support Group, sometimes called Viking Squadron, with BV210s. Hardly CVRT Scimitar types.

They were once meant to be integral to each Commando under C2020 but why this changed I don’t know.


Don’t neglect the 4.5″ gun. Granted, its not much (the last example of Saif Sareea had multiple escorts) but some NGS is better than nothing. You’re not wrong, the Royal Marines lack a lot of clout. Major cuts and the numerous land based wars have left them equipped for little more than commando and infantry operations, amphibious capability is remarkably poor. Still its work remembering everything is relative. There are very few countries on Earth that could conduct operations like this so far from home. The RN and marines may have lost a lot of combat power, but the critical… Read more »

Daniele Mandelli

No fair point. I’d not thought of NGS. And of course 29 RA do have a rather special battery in 148.


The action reports from 148 calling in fire from UK and Aussie frigates on the Al Faw are a sobering read.
The NGS provided was accurate and on call throughout and was a major factor in the Iraqi Forces in that area surrendering as they did.
A “fire for effect” call and half a dozen 4.5 bricks air bursting above troops in the open persuaded the enemy forces that resistance was not a good idea.

Daniele Mandelli

Yes agree there on the logistic point.

That’s why I mentioned defending the militaries capabilities in my “rant”

Size and assets aside we can deploy and have the professionalism and know how to conduct this stuff. Thanks Callum.


What sort of Electronic Warfare capabilities does T45 have? If it has the capabilities to go on the offensive there by even partially f*#@ing up an enemies sensor and/or communications capabilities, or by giving the enemy concerns about using them to their full capability for fear of lack of security or revealing positions, that’s something not to be dismissed too lightly in today’s world.

Daniele Mandelli

Shaman I think. Think that’s CESM though.

Gunbuster will know but probably cannot say.


I was going to comment when this went up earlier about the low number of helicopters deployed. I really do have an issue with us not sending out the vessels “fully loaded”. My view is that if a T45 can hanger 2 Wildcats then it should deploy with 2 wildcats, same for Albion etc. It is relatively pointless having a chinook enabled deck – if we don’t have enough chinooks for our big platforms. All RN ships are under armed – it is a bit of a national disgrace. We have many discussion on replacements for Ocean etc, but the… Read more »


I remember being in 814 ASW squadron when we deployed to Oman during the first Saif Sareea exercise in 1986. We had Illustrious, with 800 nas sea harriers, one of the fearless class, 846 commando sea king nas, a few Sir class LST, two destroyers, at least four frigates, four RFA and the RAF deployed jaguars. A busy week or two.


The RAF deployed Jaguars. Did the Hilton Hotel have a runway?

David E Flandry

Why doesn’t the Type 45 have a decent ASW suite, in order to be a proper escort for the QEs? Was this purely a matter of money?