Marines' storming show ahead of major exercise
DOG walkers got a bit of a surprise when a squad of Royal Marines stormed a Plymouth beach.
The commandos were refining their techniques at Barnpool beach under the watchful eye of senior naval officers in preparation for a major Royal Navy exercise..
Renowned for their amphibious capabilities, the Royal Marines were rehearsing their covert landing drills in preparation for a series of planned night raids during the Cougar 12 deployment.
Vessels and more than 2,500 people will make up the Response Force Task Group operation which is set to begin on the Cornish coast next week.
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Speaking from the beach near Mount Batten, Commodore Paddy McAlpine, Commander United Kingdom Task Group, said: "There is no better place to be than out here seeing the landing skills of the Royal Marines.
"We have to train 365 days of the year. The Navy always trains; we are taking a task group to the Mediterranean and we are doing some preliminary training next week.
"It's a great opportunity to work alongside the French Navy to start with."
Dozens of commandos, some of whom were fresh out of training, first completed cross deck movements – leaving the comfort of a covered landing craft onto smaller, more agile, Offshore Raiding Craft (ORCs).
The ORCs are best placed for covert operations being smaller and quieter than the marines' larger Landing Craft Utility (LCUs).
In smaller groups, the commandos leapt into the sea before running up the beach to 'secure' the area – surprising a number of people taking a stroll in the area.
They will rehearse the drill over and over again to achieve the same high standards when they do it at night.
In the build-up to the beach raid, the commandos practised loading and unloading military vehicles, including large trucks and lorries, onto the landing craft from their Turnchapel base.
The drills will prepare the green berets for operations where they could be required to land in coastal regions across the world.
Cdre McAlpine added: "I don't have a specific mission anywhere in the world at the moment. I have ships in the Gulf I could draw upon or they could draw upon one from the Med; the main thing is we can adapt this force to whatever the government wants me to do.
"My job is to take a task force down into the Mediterranean to take an opportunity to train with the French and the Albanians."
In the coming weeks the RFTG are expected to work closely with French and American troops in the Mediterranean.
After leaving the South West coastline, Cougar 12 will lead the amphibious troops to Gibraltar ahead of Exercise Corsican Lion working with the French Navy and British Army before moving on to Albania, where Exercise Albanian Lion will commence.
A wide range of weaponry will be put into action while sailors and marines work together with the Albanian military.
The deployment is due to draw to a close at the end of next month with the RFTG scheduled to return on November 30.
Devonport ships including HMS Bulwark, HMS Northumberland and HMS Montrose are all joining in the operation.
Stonehouse-based 30 Commando, 29 Commando Regiment Royal Artillery and Turnchapel's 539 Assault Squadron will be joined by the nation's Lead Commando Group, 45 Commando, in support of Cougar 12.
HMS Bulwark will leave Devonport naval base on Monday, sailing past Devil's Point at 6.45pm en-route to the exercise, while HMS Montrose will sail past Devil's Point on Tuesday at 10.30am.