HMS Tamar Conducts Board And Search Training With Specialist Commandos

Forces News has been given exclusive access to the Navy's newest patrol ship as specialist commando units conducted training exercises.

HMS Tamar has been conducting board and search training with specialist commando units in Plymouth Sound.

The Royal Navy’s newest patrol ship has been working with 47 Commando, the experts in small boat operations and amphibious warfare, plus marines from 42 Commando, the experts in boarding missions.

Forces News was given exclusive access during the high-intensity training to see how the marines perform in action.

In the exercise, the marines were tasked with taking HMS Tamar via high vertical access - the name given for boarding a ship by scaling its sides.

Major Chris Stevens, of 42 Commando, told Forces News why this sort of training is so important.

"This sort of stuff is at the high end of the risk envelope and if we don’t train it regularly, you get skill fade," he said.

"The weather, the sea state, is constantly changing. It’s extremely difficult, so it’s something that we have to do.

A marine begins scaling the sides of HMS Tamar.

"It's quite a technical skill and so just the positioning of the boats, the working of the equipment, a lot of it is specialist, so we are the only ones that do it and because of that, we need to keep sharp so that when we do deploy – we win," he added.

As part of the Future Commando Force – the modernisation of the Royal Marines – commandos will operate in a forward presence role. 

HMS Tamar has room for 51 Royal Marines on board so the combined training also prepared the crew for more integrated deployments in the future.

The training allows HMS Tamar to be used as a springboard for Royal Marines to board and search suspect vessels on future operations.

Commanding Officer of HMS Tamar, Lieutenant Commander Michael Hutchinson, stressed the importance of working together with the marines on similar real-life missions.

A marine conducts high vertical access during the exercise.

He told Forces News: "For us, we’re preparing to operate the ship around the globe, we don’t exactly know where we are going to be yet and that’s to be announced, but what we’re expecting to do is what these ships are absolutely ideal for which is counter-narcotics, counter-piracy, constabulary duties, humanitarian aid, disaster relief and that kind of thing.

"With a small lean man ship's company with a modern autonomous platform what we need is for the Royal Marines to come and add that element of capability.

"So, with Future Commando Force around the corner, being able to put 51 Royal Marines on board and use the ship's boats and embark additional boats or use them from a helicopter – that really gives us a massive capability that is bolt-on bolt-off which is where the Royal Marines fit in."