UK/USA — In Pictures: Royal Navy’s Amphibious Task Group heads for USA

The Roy­al Navy’s amphibi­ous flag­ship HMS Albion, lead­ing the UK’s amphibi­ous Task Group, left Devon­port last week to meet up with the Auri­ga multi­na­tion­al Naval Task Group off the east coast of the USA.

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Fam­i­lies wave good­bye to their loved ones aboard HMS Albion bound for exer­cis­es with the Unit­ed States Marine Corps and Navy
Source: LA(Phot) Claire Jones, Min­istry of Defence, UK
Click to enlarge

The Auri­ga deploy­ment is a joint mar­itime oper­a­tional exer­cise last­ing four months involv­ing the UK, US and French navies. See Relat­ed News to read more.

HMS Albion and the UK’s amphibi­ous Task Group, includ­ing the heli­copter car­ri­er HMS Ocean will be join­ing the Task Group for exer­cis­es with the Unit­ed States Marine Corps and Navy.

The focus of atten­tion for Ply­mouth-based Com­man­der Amphibi­ous Task Group and Stone­house Bar­racks staff from 3 Com­man­do Brigade Roy­al Marines will be a series of exer­cis­es in the chal­leng­ing ter­rain of Camp Leje­une in North Car­oli­na.

The amphibi­ous task group began the year with Exer­cise Cold Response in Nor­way. The hot and humid cli­mate of the swamp­lands of the east­ern USA will pro­vide train­ing in a very dif­fer­ent envi­ron­ment.

Com­modore Paul Ben­nett, Com­man­der Amphibi­ous Task Group, said:

“I am delight­ed to be lead­ing some of the UK’s most capa­ble war­ships in this impor­tant exer­cise where we will refresh our work­ing prac­tices with US amphibi­ous forces.”

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Fam­i­lies wave good­bye to their loved ones aboard HMS Ocean bound for exer­cis­es with the Unit­ed States Marine Corps and Navy
Source: LA(Phot) Claire Jones, Min­istry of Defence, UK
Click to enlarge

The amphibi­ous task group, which also includes Roy­al Fleet Aux­il­iary logis­tics land­ing ship Largs Bay, will arrive in late June and will be joined by an impres­sive force of US war­ships includ­ing the USS Kearsarge Amphibi­ous Ready Group and 26 Marine Expe­di­tionary Unit — over 8,000 US Navy per­son­nel and marines.

The US and UK force will con­duct famil­iari­sa­tion train­ing before tack­ling a sce­nario loose­ly based on tack­ling an aggres­sor nation threat­en­ing region­al sta­bil­i­ty in a fic­tion­al part of the globe but cen­tred on the excel­lent train­ing facil­i­ties offered in Camp Leje­une.

Bick­leigh Bar­racks-based 42 Com­man­do Roy­al Marines and ele­ments of 29 Com­man­do Roy­al Artillery, from Plymouth’s Citadel, and Stone­house-based 30 Com­man­do Roy­al Marines and per­son­nel and heli­copters from Com­man­do Heli­copter Force from Roy­al Naval Air Sta­tion Yeovil­ton will also take part.

Exer­cise Auri­ga is part of a series of train­ing exer­cis­es that will build on the UK’s abil­i­ty to con­duct small-scale focused Inter­ven­tion oper­a­tions any­where in the world, deliv­er­ing amphibi­ous forces sup­port­ed by air pow­er from the Joint Har­ri­er Force.

See Relat­ed News to see more pic­tures of the Task Group in action.

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3 Com­man­do Brigade Roy­al Marines will take part in a series of exer­cis­es in chal­leng­ing ter­rain pro­vid­ed by Camp Leje­une in North Car­oli­na, USA
Source: Min­istry of Defence, UK
Click to enlarge

The Auri­ga Task Group is com­mand­ed by the Roy­al Navy’s Com­modore Simon Ancona on board the Fleet Flag­ship, HMS Ark Roy­al act­ing as the Com­mand Plat­form.

Ear­li­er this week, Ark Roy­al host­ed 16 senior per­son­nel from the Unit­ed States Navy (USN), Unit­ed States Marine Corps (USMC) plus senior civil­ians from the US Depart­ment of Defense.

The aim of the vis­it was to pro­vide an oppor­tu­ni­ty for senior US per­son­nel to observe the Auri­ga deploy­ment first hand in order to gain a bet­ter under­stand­ing of the impor­tance of the strate­gic UK-US rela­tion­ship for the Roy­al Navy, Unit­ed States Navy and Unit­ed States Marine Corps.

This vis­it includ­ed briefs about Car­ri­er Strike capa­bil­i­ty from Com­modore Simon Ancona, and a fly­ing dis­play by Har­ri­er GR9 jets from 1(F) Squadron — Joint Force Har­ri­er, Mer­lin heli­copters from 814 Naval Air Squadron and Lynx heli­copters from HMS Ark Royal’s of 212 Flight, Com­modore Simon Ancona said:

“This is a superb oppor­tu­ni­ty to dis­cuss some real­ly impor­tant issues. The vis­i­tors were all huge­ly impressed with what they saw and heard. I am pleased we were able to show our­selves off.”

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The Auri­ga deploy­ment is a joint mar­itime oper­a­tional exer­cise last­ing four months involv­ing the UK, US and French navies
Source: LA(Phot) Gregg Macready, Min­istry of Defence, UK
Click to enlarge

Inter­op­er­abil­i­ty between the Unit­ed States Navy and the Roy­al Navy has been the ‘buzz word’ of the deploy­ment.

HMS Ark Roy­al embarked 12 MAG -14 AV8B har­ri­ers from the USMC and, the Roy­al Navy will be send­ing twelve fixed wing pilots to the Unit­ed States to be trained to fly the USN F-18 jets in prepa­ra­tion for the Joint Strike Fight­er F35Bs, which will be embarked in the UK’s new Queen Eliz­a­beth Class air­craft car­ri­ers.

Cap­tain John Clink, HMS Ark Royal’s Com­mand­ing Offi­cer, said:

“We are very proud of our work with our NATO allies and our long his­to­ry of co-oper­a­tion with the Unit­ed States Navy. Today was a great oppor­tu­ni­ty for us to demon­strate some of the capa­bil­i­ties that the UK Car­ri­er Strike Group has, par­tic­u­lar­ly the GR9 Har­ri­er and Mer­lin ASW heli­copters oper­at­ing from HMS Ark Roy­al. Exer­cis­ing off the US Coast pro­vides the per­fect Car­ri­er gym­na­si­um to enhance our skills and work with US forces.”

Press release
Min­istry of Defence, UK