Albanian, UK forces conclude exercise Albanian Lion

Royal Navy and Royal Marines joined Albanian forces for an exercise which is part of the Royal Navy’s annual deployment of a crisis-focused amphibious task group, the Joint Expeditionary Force Maritime 16 (JEF(M)16).

Several Royal Navy ships, including HMS Ocean and HMS Bulwark played a role in Albanian Lion which concluded October 8.

Albanian Lion, which was taking place for the fifth time, included 250 Albanian armed forces personnel and follows UK defense secretary Michael Fallon’s visit to Tirana last week to reaffirm the UK’s commitment to work side-by-side with Albania.

For Albanian Lion, the UK also committed Navy vessels RFA Mounts Bay and MV Eddystone, a tailored air group made up of Chinook, Merlin, Wildcat and Apache helicopters, and lead elements of a Royal Marine Commando group, Royal Navy divers and Commando engineers. A small number of Army and Royal Air Force personnel also took part in the exercise.

Albanian Lion is part of a series of UK exercises in the Adriatic and the Gulf, reinforcing the nation’s relationships with allies and ensuring that the task group is ready to respond if called upon.

Commodore Andrew Burns, Commander Amphibious Task Group (COMATG), said: “This exercise is the culmination of a period of focused preparation at sea, in the UK and in the challenging coastal environment of our NATO ally, Albania.”

HMS Bulwark’s commanding officer, Captain James Parkin, said: “The end of this exercise sees HMS Bulwark proven as ready to play her part as the flagship of the UK Amphibious Task Group, and of the Joint Expeditionary Force, and demonstrates our key role in the Royal Navy’s overarching mission of protecting our nation’s interests, worldwide.”

During the JEF(M)16 deployment the maritime task group will be joined by further Royal Navy warships and partner nations.