The deployment of UK Royal Navy‚Äôs main task force has begun in regional waters ahead of a series of exercises with regional nations, including Oman, after spending the past month deployed to the Mediterranean Sea.
In an official release, the UK Ministry of Defence (MoD) stated that following exercises with European countries, including port visits to Gibraltar, Rota, Lisbon and Palermo, the Response Force Task Group (RFTG) would spend its ‚ÄòCougar 13‚Äô deployment exercising with Oman, Saudi Arabia and UAE to ‚Äòstrengthen ties with historic and valued partners‚Äô in the region.
The RFTG will also carry out counter-piracy operations in support of European Union‚Äôs maritime security mission, spending up to three months in the East of the Suez canal.
Commodore Paddy Mc-Alpine, Commander UK Task Group, said, ‚ÄúHaving successfully demonstrated our contingent‚Äôs capabilities and the value of engagement across the breadth of the Mediterranean over the past four weeks, every one in the Cougar 13 Task Group is eager and ready to operate closely alongside our partners and allies to reaffirm our longstanding commitment and tangible support to the Gulf region.‚Äù
The RFTG is the UK‚Äôs high readiness maritime force, comprising warships, submarines, aircraft and a landing force of Royal Marines, at short notice to act in response to any contingency tasking if required.
Among the vessels in this year‚Äôs fleet include HMS Bulwark, HMS Illustrious, HMS Westminster, RFA Lyme Bay, RFA Fort Austin and the Ministry of Defence strategic RO-RO ferry Hurst Point.
The fleet will join HMS Montrose, already in the Arabian Gulf, having sailed ahead of the Task Group to meet commitments to counter-piracy and counter-narcotics operations.