Monday, July 14, 2014

Military Logistics Hit the Water as Marines Hone Skills in Busy Port

Grimsby Sees Commando Squadron Exercise for Four Days
Shipping News Feature

UK – This year with a century since the commencement of the Great War and more particularly the seventieth anniversary of the Normandy landings in mind there can hardly have been a more appropriate time for Associated British Ports’ (ABP) Port of Grimsby to volunteer as the location for a four day logistics exercise by 75 Royal Marines from 539 Assault Squadron Royal Marines who needed to hone their skills.

Nor indeed can there be a more appropriate place as the parameters required made the choice of an ideal venue somewhat limited. The exercise, which formed part of Exercise Raging Torrent, called for a challenging estuarine location and the Humber was selected because of its tidal range and its continually shifting bed making it a near perfect location for the needs of 539 Assault Squadron, which is the amphibious arm of 3 Commando Brigade. The squadron is charged with providing the Commandos with small boats and raiding craft, as well as specialist knowledge of riverine environments and Royal Marine Captain Andrew Lacy, explained what the Squadron was looking for and why they chose the Humber as the location for this exercise, saying:

“We are the only group in defence to operate on rivers in this manner and for this particular exercise we really needed an estuary. The Humber ticked a lot of boxes for us as it’s the second-largest in the UK and it’s a very dynamic environment. It’s a challenging place as it has a huge tidal range and the bed shifts dramatically so it’s very testing for our coxswains. That, coupled with the support offered by ABP, made it ideal.

“The space given to us at Grimsby also meant we could move our entire logistics base to the port, which made things so much easier. It was the ideal place for us to base ourselves for this particular exercise, it has been a real challenge and our personnel have really been tested, particularly on navigation. It’s been good for planning for future deployments and for contingency operations. We will definitely be back in the future, it’s been an extremely worthwhile visit and I can’t speak highly enough of ABP and its staff.”

Not that the exercise was held in completely tranquil surroundings, as an operator with 21 ports in its portfolio ABP had plenty of sites to select from and with an investment of £26 million to allow the large car carriers to berth outside the lock system, Grimsby maintains its claimed position as the UK’s leading automotive handling facility. The Squadron brought 12 craft in total including inflatable Zodiacs, Offshore Raiding Craft, hovercrafts and Landing Craft, Vehicle, Personnel (LCVP), with which to conduct river patrols, beach reconnaissance and practice counter smuggling operations, and ABP Marine and Operations Manager at Grimsby, Phil Christy who worked with the Marines to ensure they had everything they needed during their stay commented:

“It was fantastic to see the Royal Marines making use of the port in this way. They were a pleasure to work with and to watch them coming in and out of the lock, using Royal Dock and the river for their exercise was a spectacular sight.”