The Royal Marines have completed preparations for operations across the Mediterranean this autumn after intensive amphibious exercises in the Netherlands.
After three months of intensive work-up in the UK, marines from Plymouth-based 47 Commando headed to the Dutch island of Texel for the culmination of operational training.
Around 90 commandos crossed the North Sea with the Royal Navy support ship RFA Mounts Bay for training.
This year, the coxswains embarked in RFA Mounts Bay and sailed for Den Helder in the Netherlands to complete their final intensive exercise to become qualified, on what was named Exercise Green Tulip.
Across five days, the commandos operated around the North Holland port of Den Helder and Texel Island, a 17 square-mile national park in the north, which is made up of narrow waterways, sand dunes and woodland.
For the coxswains, the waters and beaches of Texel provide a solid challenge in unfamiliar surroundings.
“It’s inherently quite dangerous on the water, so they’re thinking about that aspect but then they’re also thinking about the tactical exercise and the enemy scenario and then supporting the landing forces as best they can,” said Captain Alec Trigger, landing craft training officer at 47 Commando, about the training.
“The kind of areas that we’ll be landing strike teams are going to be contested. You need a craft operator that can fulfil every role. They are a commando first and a coxswain second. You don’t leave those commando skills behind when you become a landing craftsman.”
Intense planning was completed before carrying out landings across Texel, with strike teams from 40 Commando’s Bravo Company heading ashore and taking out ‘enemy’ positions and carrying out reconnaissance missions.
For Royal Marines, most of the training is done around the waters near 47 Commando’s home in Plymouth, honing navigational skills, tactics and the handling of craft of all shapes and sizes – from the tiny inshore raiding craft (IRC) and fast and armed offshore raiding craft (ORC) to the larger landing craft vehicle personnel (LCVP) and landing craft utility (LCU).
The exercise was a preparation for operational deployments later this year as part of the Royal Navy’s Littoral Response Group (North), which focuses on the security of European waters and is usually made up of amphibious flagship HMS Albion, a Bay-class (Mounts Bay or one of sistits ers) and an escort frigate.