Royal Marines

Up close with Royal Marines landing craft

47 Commando (Raiding Group) Royal Marines runs three levels of training which start with the fundamentals.

Specialists in small craft operations and amphibious warfare, 47 Commando (Raiding Group) Royal Marines are preparing for overseas training in the Netherlands.

To develop experts in raiding shorelines and working with strike teams to impose a lethal force on adversaries – they must start with learning how to operate all the craft 47 Commando has.

The commando unit has various IRCs (inflatable raiding craft) and ORCs (offshore raiding craft) – which can be troop carriers or gunboats as well as LCVP (landing craft vehicle personnel) and LCU (landing craft utility). 

The landing craft

"Each craft has its own specification. So as an IRC coxswain, you're predominantly to do with beach recce... tactical insurgence, going in to do beach reconnaissance in order to facilitate future landing so we can get bigger craft on to it," 47 Commando (Raiding Group) Royal Marines Corporal Jonathan Williams said.

He further explained that the offshore raiding craft is normally used as a very fast means of getting troops from ship to shore over the horizon because it's got a planing speed of about 25 knots, generally, the most fun craft to drive.

"The LCVP... can carry one vehicle or marines fully laden with their Bergens ready to go warfighting.

"The landing craft utility, which is the big one, it can carry up to a Challenger 2 tank, which it has done on a couple of occasions, but also you can get a company of marines on there."

The offshore raiding craft is normally used as a very fast means of getting troops from ship to shore over the horizon 12072022 CREDIT BFBS
The ORCs (offshore raiding craft) are normally used as a very fast means of getting troops from ship to shore over the horizon.

The training

47 Commando runs three levels of training which start with the fundamentals.

"In order to earn the right to touch a boat, the first thing you have got to do is do two weeks of classroom-based learning which is rules of the road, essentially the highway code of the water, and learn what you should do in any situation," says Cpl Williams.

"Whether that be navigation, risk of collision, etc. Once you've got that tick in the box then that allows you to go and then start learning how to coxswain a craft.

"So initially it's what we call 'bumps and scrapes', there's a clue in the title, because there's a lot of bumping and a lot of scraping, and then the majority of the rest of the course is spent is doing that gradually furnishing the people with what they need to coxswain".

During the more tactical element involved later, Cpl Williams added that the "cheeky" conditions are where you "get to learn very quickly if people have got a strong constitution or not".

Another element of training is preparing the craft and getting it into a position ready to be loaded onto the ship.

For all the vessels to be operational at 47 Commando, there is a team of engineers making sure everything is ready. 

47 Commando can provide flexibility and manoeuvrability to the commando forces, which is why their specialist training is so crucial.

Be it in the UK or abroad – coastlines and sea states vary – the commandos need to be one step ahead of enemy at all times.