The Royal Navy is set to deploy a large task group to the Baltic Sea for two months of international operations.
Amphibious transport dock HMS Albion will spearhead the “Baltic Protector” mission, involving nearly 2,000 British personnel from all three services.
The deployment is the first large-scale run out of the new UK-led Joint Expeditionary Force, set up four years ago in cooperation with Denmark, Estonia, Finland, Latvia, Lithuania, the Netherlands, Norway and Sweden.
The aim is to demonstrate the ability of participants to mobilize forces at short notice, deploy them and fight side-by-side to protect Europe at a time of increased threat.
The task group will be tested in a range of drills and exercises, from the ability to safely sail in company and communicate, through basic amphibious drills and raids to larger-scale landings and manoeuvres with three major exercises punctuating the two-month deployment.
“With our close friends and partners from the other eight Joint Expeditionary Force nations, this UK-led maritime task group will conduct a series of demanding amphibious exercises and maritime security patrols across the Baltic Sea which will serve to improve the way we operate together and our readiness to respond to crisis,” said Commodore James Parkin, in charge of the force.
From HMS Albion, he will take charge of frigate HMS Kent, Royal Fleet Auxiliaries to provide amphibious, aviation, logistics and fuel support, more than half a dozen P2000 patrol boats, six helicopters, a dive team to search for mines, and Royal Marines from 3 Commando Brigade – including fast assault craft, field guns and combat engineers.
In addition, ships from the other participating nations will join the force at various times – committing everything from patrol craft up to assault and command ships, some 30 different vessels in all.