HMS Albion sets sail for NATO deployment

HMS Albion, the Royal Navy’s recently refurbished amphibious assault ship, deployed on Tuesday to become flagsip of NATO’s Standing Maritime Group 2 (SNMG2).

The ship sailed from Devonport Naval Base in Plymouth and will operate in the Mediterranean for five months.

Captain Tim Neild, HMS Albion commanding officer, said: “It is a huge privilege for us to fly the flag of the NATO task group commander in such a high profile deployment.

He thanked the families of the his ship’s company and the Devonport and wider defense community for the task of getting his ship through her major upgrade and training and final preparations.

Tonnes of stores, vehicles, boats, spares, food and equipment were craned on to the massive flight deck and transported into the cavernous vehicle deck via the side ramp. A Royal Marines group also be embarking with their equipment.

Over the coming months, HMS Albion will undertake presence and security operations as well as conducting multi-national exercises aimed at increasing the way the navies of the task group work together.

The commander of SNMG2, Commodore Mike Utley, said: “Our role in NATO sits right at the heart of British government policy to reinforce our commitment to international partners and their broader security.

“What better way for the UK to contribute than to lead this task group from HMS Albion – I am immensely proud to command such a highly professional and internationally diverse force.’’

HMS Albion is returning to operations after a two-year period of extensive modernization and a program of training and sea trials.