UK: Two Island Class Patrol Boats Join Royal Marines’ Fleet
Royal Marine Commandos at HM Naval Base Clyde have a new tool to help protect high-value shipping. 43 Commando Fleet Protection Group Royal Marines (43 Cdo FPGRM) have recently taken delivery of two Island Class Patrol Boats.
The versatile vessels – called “Mull’ and “Rona” – are former MOD Police boats which have undergone extensive refitting at their manufacturer in Anglesey.
As well as major reworking of their upper decks, the patrol boats have also been fitted with three new weapon mount positions, enhanced protection for coxswains and crew, as well as an enhanced communications package.
The end result is an ideal platform for Royal Marines to operate on while undertaking vital protection and patrolling duties on the Gare Loch, Loch Long and on the Clyde.
Since the arrival of the vessels the Royal Marines have been busy putting the Island Class through their paces. An extensive crew training package has been undertaken as well as live firing exercises at nearby sea ranges.
Colour Sergeant Sid Blake from 43 Cdo’s R Squadron said:
“Anyone who has experienced a ride in an Offshore Raiding Craft (ORC) will know how wet you can get even on a mild summer day.
“When you think that we can be patrolling or exercising on the West Coast of Scotland for between six to 15 hours at all times of the year then it’s easy to imagine how much of an endurance test it can become.
“The new Island Class vessels offer us everything an ORC can but with a number of key improvements. They are highly versatile vessels and give us the ability to rotate the crew and gunners through the protection offered by the heated cockpit.”
On Friday, February 22, 43 Cdo hosted Chief of Defence Materiel (CDM), Bernard Gray, on an inspection and demonstration of the new boats.
Accompanied by the 3 Commando Brigade Commander, Brigadier Martin Smith MBE, Commanding Officer of 43 Cdo, Colonel Alan Litster OBE, and senior members of DE&S’ Boat Team, CDM was taken to sea and shown the full range of the impressive vessels’ capabilities.
Colonel Litster said:
“These new vessels give us a significant uplift in our capability to protect high-value shipping in the Firth of Clyde.”
Naval Today Staff, March 8, 2013; Image: Royal Navy