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UK Maritime Operations Commandos In Guam

UK Maritime Operations Commandos (MOC) have been training for VBSS (Visit, Board, Search and Seizure) operations alongside a US Marines Force Reconnaissance Company in Guam.


Images released on Thursday by the US Department of Defence document the training exercise in Guam which involved elements of: a Force Reconnaissance Company from 3rd Reconnaissance Battalion, 3rd Marine Division, III Marine Expeditionary Force; J Company, 42 Commando RM; and Explosive Ordinance Disposal Mobile Unit 5 of the US Navy.


Combined RM and USMC team conducting a simulated VBSS raid, 27th March 2018 [USMC: Sgt. Carl King]

The bi-national exercise focused on conducting special insertion and raids training, aboard the submarine tender USS Frank Cable (AS 40), and saw mixed teams of Marines from the UK and US working side-by-side.The units were “conducting joint, combined training in order to develop shared standard-of-procedures in a VBSS environment so they can provide a more flexible and mission-ready capability to geographic combatant commanders in the Pacific”.


British Commando instructs a US Marine colleague hooking a climbing ladder during a simulated VBSS raid [USMC: Sgt. Carl King]

Background: On 10th April 2017 the Commandant General RM & Commander UK Amphibious Forces informed his Marines of the creation of the Maritime Operations Commando.


The following day the First Sea Lord confirmed that the Royal Marines were to be restructured, including making 42 Commando a specialised Maritime Operations unit.


A mixed 4-man team of US and Royal Marines being transported by an inflatable boat [USMC: Sgt. Carl King]

In late August, as part of this restructuring, specialist personnel from 43 Commando relocated from Her Majesty’s Naval Base Clyde in Argyll & Bute to Bickleigh Barracks in Devon as part of the newly structured 42 Maritime Operations Commando.


Under the new Commando Forces 2030 structure for 3 [UK] Commando Brigade: 40 Cdo and 45 Cdo remain as full strength amphibious battalions; 42 Cdo becomes “the specialised, go-to unit for maritime operations” with some of their posts, like heavy weapons specialists, being reallocated; and 43 Cdo has been downsized with responsibility for just nuclear deterrent protection duties.


US Marine (left) and Royal Marines from J Company [USMC: Sgt. Carl King]

The reconfigured J (Juliet) Company of 42 Commando are now 3 Brigade’s VBSS specialists. They can be identified in the photos by their MTP (Multi-Terrain Pattern) camouflage and Team Wendy Exfil LTP coyote brown bump helmets. Standard personal weapons carried by the MOC are the 5.56mm L119A1 carbine, which is the UK designation for the Colt Canada C8, and the 9mm Glock 17 Gen 4 pistol.

Maritime Operations Commandos armed with 5.56mm L119A1 carbines during a simulated VBSS raid in a London dock, September 2017 [© Bob Morrison]

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