Marines off to Gibraltar amid fresh tensions
Westcountry-based Royal Marines, along with thousands of Royal Navy personnel, have set sail for the Mediterranean and Gulf in an exercise which will see a diplomatic hotspot as their first port of call.
Cougar 13 will be led by the fleet's flagship, HMS Bulwark, which is based at Devonport, and backed up by HMS Montrose, also based in the city, and two other warships.
The deployment, which the Ministry of Defence insists has been a long time planned, will involve a stop-off at Gibraltar, currently the scene of a stand-off between the British and Spanish governments.
Commodore Paddy McAlpine, who will command the UK Task Group from HMS Bulwark, said the exercise was about enhancing the Royal Navy's ability to "operate and project power."
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He added: "In so doing, it will also remind interested domestic and international parties of the enduring utility, employability and interoperability of the Royal Navy.
"During Cougar 13 we will engage with our partner nations through a series of exercises, reinforcing our commitment and demonstrating our contribution to security in the Mediterranean and Gulf region."