Royal Navy ships make crossing from Europe to Asia via iconic canal
A flotilla of Royal Navy ships led by a Plymouth-based warship have made the iconic crossing from Europe to Asia on the way to their next deployment.
The high readiness Response Force Task Group (RFTG) has sailed through the Suez Canal as part of the Cougar 13 exercise.
HMS Bulwark, HMS Illustrious, HMS Westminster, RFA Lyme Bay, RFA Fort Austin and the Ministry of Defence strategic roll-on-roll-off ferry Hurst Point, carrying amphibious vehicles, transited through the narrow waterways of the Suez Canal at the mandatory 1,500 yards distance.
Once through the canal, which connects the Mediterranean to the Red Sea, the ships joined Devonport-based HMS Montrose in the Arabian Gulf which was already on anti-piracy and counter narcotics operations in the region.
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Commodore Paddy McAlpine said it had been a good deployment so far.
“Having successfully demonstrated our contingent capabilities and the value of engagement across the breadth of the Mediterranean over the past four weeks, everyone in the Cougar 13 Task Group is eager and ready to operate closely alongside our partners and allies to reaffirm our longstanding commitment and tangible support to the Gulf region.”
Over the next three months elements of the RFTG will mount exercises with military and security forces in Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates and Oman to strengthen British ties in the Middle East region.
While most of the Cougar 13 group have travelled through the Suez Canal, RFA Mounts Bay remains in the Mediterranean supporting elements of 3 Commando Brigade Royal Marines on exercise Dragon Hammer in Albania.
It will eventually join the rest of the task group.
The Cougar 13 deployment sailed in August and will operate in the Mediterranean, Red Sea, Arabian Gulf and Horn of Africa.