UK: Lusty Casts Off for Cougar ’13
Royal Navy helicopter carrier HMS Illustrious sailed from Portsmouth on August 12 as part of an annual deployment to the Mediterranean and Gulf region involving thousands of RN, Royal Marines and Royal Fleet Auxiliary personnel.
The long-planned Cougar ’13 deployment will see elements of the UK’s Response Force Task Group (RFTG) – the naval force formed under the 2010 Strategic Defence and Security Review – hone its world-class maritime skills thousands of miles from home through exercises with a number of key allies.
Four Royal Navy warships, the Lead Commando Group from 3 Commando Brigade Royal Marines and elements of Naval Air Squadrons will be supported by five vessels from the Royal Fleet Auxiliary.
This is the third time the deployment has taken place with its aim to demonstrate the ability to operate a highly effective maritime force anywhere in the world to protect UK interests.
Captain Mike Utley, Commanding Officer HMS Illustrious, said:
“I am immensely proud of my ship and what has been achieved by everyone on board, in Portsmouth Naval Base and further afield, to get HMS Illustrious and all our embedded capabilities ready to deploy today.
“We have bee trained and prepared, as a major part of the UK’s contingency capability, to successfully integrate and operate aircraft from across defence and therefore complete any tasking we may be asked to undertake.”
Press Release, August 13, 2013; Image: Royal Navy