HMS Albion about to leave port for Baltic Protector (Picture: Royal Navy).
Royal Navy flagship, HMS Albion, has left for the Baltic Sea in the first UK-led maritime deployment of the Joint Expeditionary Force.
Thousands of UK armed forces personnel will take part in Baltic Protector, in support of European security.
The ship carries the joint staff who will command the deployment - drawn from the Plymouth-based headquarters of 3 Commando Brigade Royal Marines and the staff of the Commander of the Amphibious Task Group.
It marks the first deployment of the military force which comprises nine nations including the UK, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, Latvia, Lithuania, the Netherlands, Norway and Sweden.
At its peak, a total of 3,850 sailors, marines, soldiers, and airmen will take part, along with more than 17 naval vessels in the Baltic region.
Captain Peter Laughton, the Commanding Officer of HMS Albion, said:
"This represents the largest UK-led operational deployment of a military force in Europe for decades and demonstrates our ability to react quickly and decisively to any crisis in the world."
The first phase of Baltic Protector is an exercise in the western Baltic and eastern North Sea, before the task group joins the US-led Exercise Baltops.
There the group will link up with other multinational and allied formations, such as the Standing NATO Maritime Group 1 - which currently includes Royal Navy frigate HMS Westminster.
The amphibious task group will also meet up with the US 2nd Fleet and mine countermeasures vessels from Lithuania, Latvia, Poland and Estonia.
For the final phase of the deployment, the task group will focus on amphibious operations within the eastern Baltic, where the ships and landing forces will conduct a series of raids.