539 Assault Squadron Royal Marines boarding Channel ferry
Royal Marines

Royal Marines Storm Passenger Ferry During 'Vital' Training

Commandos went aboard the vessel ten miles off the English coast.

539 Assault Squadron Royal Marines boarding Channel ferry

The ferry was travelling from France (Picture: Royal Navy).

Royal Marines have stormed a packed passenger ferry in the Channel as part of rehearsals for boarding drills.

Using high-speed boats and specialist climbing equipment, commandos went aboard the vessel, ten miles off the English coast.

Passengers on board the ferry watched from the upper decks as 16 specialist troops from 42 Commando, the Royal Marines’ Maritime Operations Unit, ascended on to the nine-deck vessel.

With coxswains from 539 Assault Squadron piloting three fast craft, marines made the climb by cable ladder to the upper decks of the ferry, all while moving through the water at around 25mph.

"The Royal Marines are one of only a few forces in the UK trained to conduct this sort of operation, so it is vital we do this training regularly, under the most arduous conditions possible," said Captain Jack Denniss of 539 Assault Squadron.

42 Commando is trained to carry out 'level three' boarding operations, which include those where a target vessel is obstructed by obstacles or manoeuvre.

Capt Denniss said personnel must go through "rigorous training" and "courage" to successfully complete these types of operation

"During this sort of boarding, the point of greatest vulnerability can often be the embarkation," he said.

"In fact, achieving access to a fast-moving vessel is in some cases more dangerous than the enemy protecting it."

The Royal Marines currently use the Pacific 24 sea boat, a multi-purpose craft carried by all UK warships which can reach speeds of up to 40 knots (around 46mph).

During the operation in the Channel, they deployed with two Pacific 24s.

539 Assault Squadron Royal Marines boarding Channel ferry
The passenger ferry had been travelling from Roscoff in north-western France (Picture: Royal Navy).