New USD 25 Million Worth Home for Royal Marines Landing Craft Units
PLYMOUTH’S Frigate Alley will soon become ‘Landing Craft, Hovercraft, RIB and ORC Alley’ as Royal Marines units move into a new £25m home in Devonport Naval Base.
Two of the commandos’ amphibious formations – 539 Assault Squadron and 10 (Landing Craft) Training Squadron – are to relocate from their existing homes into a purpose-built complex on Weston Mill Lake at the northern tip of Devonport.
Weston Mill has traditionally – though not exclusively – been the berth for the Devonport-based frigate fleet, although assault ships Bulwark and Albion can often be found here when in harbour.
Over the next two years, the area will undergo a transformation as two large buildings, a marina, jetty and slipway are constructed for the two amphibious units.
One building will serve as the HQ/training complex, the other as the workshops for the various craft which comprise the Royal Marines’ amphibious panoply. There’ll also be a large area of hard-standing to store craft on dry land.
The slipway and jetty will provide launch and recovery facilities and, in addition, there’ll be a mobile hoist capable of lifting landing craft out of the water. Existing pontoons will be extended and there’ll be facilities for refuelling and coxswain training.
Lt Col Paul Clark RM said:
“Creating these new facilities will allow the Royal Marines to train and operate landing craft more efficiently and cement Devonport’s position as the national ‘centre of excellence’ in this area.”
539 are the commandos’ legendary waterborne assault unit whose landing craft, hovercraft and RIBs played a key role in the opening moves of the 2003 campaign against Saddam Hussein. Since then the assault squadron, based at RM Turnchapel on the Plym estuary – about four miles from their future home – have added the Offshore Raiding Craft gunboat to their arsenal.
539 ASRM is fed personnel by 10 Training Squadron, based in Poole; it’s responsible for training all Royal Marine boat/craft drivers from RIBs up to the largest vessel in the RM inventory, the Landing Craft (Utility), capable of delivering a Challenger 2 tank from ship to shore.
There has long been talk about 539 leaving Turnchapel; the future of the waterfront site will be considered by the MOD’S Defence Infrastructure Organisation once the commandos have vacated the facilities.
Work begins on the new complex by Debut Services – a joint venture between Lend Lease and Babcock – in October. They should be finished by the end of 2012, with the commandos moving into their new home in early 2013.
Source: royalnavy, August 11, 2011;