Around 100 Marines from 45 Commando conducted an exercise to stage an amphibious raid at a beach in Estonia as part of a major NATO exercise.
Press Release, Whitehall, 22 May 2023: Members of 45 Commando deployed from the Royal Navy amphibious assault ship, HMS Albion, under the cover of darkness on Saturday. The Commandos manoeuvred their Inflatable Raiding Craft, which can travel at speeds of up to 20knots, through the waves to close in on the beach at Kaberneeme, on the north coast of Estonia.
The beach raid is just the latest in a series of planned scenarios the UK Armed Forces are exercising as part of a 14,000-strong deployment from 11 NATO countries for Exercise SPRING STORM [KEVADTORM 2023]. The beach raid scenario saw 45 Commando facing off against Estonia’s Armed Forces, with an Estonian naval missile unit acting as the Marines’ target.
Commanding Officer of HMS Albion, Captain Marcus Hember, said: “This exercise has been a great proving ground in demonstrating the flexibility of amphibious ships like HMS Albion, enabling fast and lethal strikes by our embedded Royal Marines in 45 Commando whilst seamlessly supported by the ship and its crew.
“We’ve demonstrated our ability to exercise with our regional partners adding significant capability and shown we can ‘turn up when needed’”.
Officer Commanding X Company, Royal Marines, Major Lee Stewart, said: “The support of the crew from HMS Albion is critical to land operations, the integrated approach with both Royal Navy and Royal Marines working as a team make amphibious warfare so effective”.
Two RAF Typhoon fighter jets were on station to provide close air support, information, surveillance and reconnaissance during the exercise – enabling invaluable integrated training between land, sea and air. Members of IX (Bomber) Squadron and their Typhoons are currently stationed at Ämari Air Base, having flown NATO air policing missions recently with German Allies – resulting in several intercepts of Russian aircraft transiting close to Estonian airspace.
The Commando exercise provided a valuable opportunity for the Royal Marines to practice an amphibious deployment, swiftly infiltrating hostile territory to secure information, confuse the enemy, or strike a high value target.
More than 1,500 UK troops are currently deployed for SPRING STORM, Estonia’s largest annual military exercise. The UK retains a continuous deployment in Estonia as part of its NATO commitment, known as the enhanced Forward Presence (eFP). At last year’s NATO summit, the UK committed to increase the size of its eFP commitment, with this year’s exercise marking the first time the UK has conducted a brigade-sized deployment to Estonia – involving hundreds more personnel than in previous deployments.
Defence Minister, Andrew Murrison – a reserve Royal Navy officer – today visited HMS Albion to speak to Armed Forces personnel involved in the exercise. His daughter, Lt Sarah Murrison, is a Deputy Logistics Officer aboard HMS Albion.
Minister for Defence People, Veterans and Service Families, Dr Andrew Murrison MP said: “Exercise SPRING STORM in Estonia is bolstering our ability to work closely with NATO allies on military operations and demonstrating our readiness for rapid deployment across all domains.
“I’m immensely proud to see first-hand the hard work my daughter, those aboard HMS Albion and everyone in our Armed Forces undertakes to keep us safe, at home and abroad.”