Ships meet at The Rock
GIBRALTAR Harbour bristled with battleships as four of the six ships assigned to the Royal Navy's key autumn deployment made the 'Rock' their first port of call.
Devonport-based flagship HMS Bulwark, Royal Fleet Auxiliary Mount's Bay and escorts HMS Northumberland and HMS Montrose have spent three days in Gibraltar before moving into t he heart of the Mediterranean for major exercises with the French and Albanians. The force was welcomed by the Royal Navy's permanent presence in the small territory: the Gibraltar Squadron. Fast patrol boat HMS Scimitar sailed to greet the incoming vessels and salute them. Once tied up alongside, sailors and Royal Marines from the task group ships tackled local sides in the sporting arena, including rugby, netball and football. HMS Bulwark sailors were victorious in the netball by a significant margin, but narrowly missed out to Scotland –based 45 Commando in the rugby clash.
The highlight of the weekend's sporting calendar was the famous Rock Race; over 200 personnel from the Response Force Task Group donned their running shoes and fancy dress and made a dash for the top of Gibraltar.
The 2.7 miles does not sound too gruelling until the ascent of 1,250ft is taken into account
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A number of task group officers took the opportunity to pay their respects at Gibraltar's famous Trafalgar Cemetery, just a couple of weeks before the anniversary of Admiral Nelson's great victory.
Trafalgar and the Royal Marines' birthday were then commemorated with a dinner onboard HMS Bulwark.
The force left Gibraltar to begin the first major test of Cougar, Exercise Corsican Lion, training with the French and their flagship FS Charles de Gaulle.