Up close: a Royal Navy night amphibious exercise with NATO partners
In this photo essay we witness an amphibious night raid conducted during the early phases of exercise Joint Warrior.
The Royal Marines have a long history of working with the Dutch marines and there is great mutual respect between two forces that frequently train together. Embarked on RFA Lyme Bay, Korps Mariniers of the 21st Raiding Squadron where delivered to the beach by Royal Marine-operated LCVPs (Landing Craft Vehicle/Personnel).
Launched in the very early hours of the morning around 0200, 60 troops were tasked to reach an inland objective before first light. (While proving their ability to operate covertly, the pitch darkness was not conducive to photography of them going ashore!). Under fluorescent blue light, the marines muster on the vehicle deck of the RFA for final checks before being directed down the ramp into the landing craft. Inside the ‘VP’ are narrow wooden benches on each side and down the middle, with just enough space for the men and their heavy burgens and rifles. Each man is equipped with night vision goggles and only red or very dim lights are used on board.
On a signal from the marshals, the LCVP backs out of the shelter of the dock. It is a cold, moonless night with occasional hail and rain showers but fortunately, the wind has eased and the sea is much calmer than just a few hours before. The shoreline is invisible but the experienced coxswain has little difficulty driving the craft the quarter of a mile to the precise point on the beach. Just before arrival, two Royal Marines come forward to man the GPMGs, suddenly the diesels are eased back and there is a gentle crunch as the bow hits the shingle. The ramp is quickly lowered into the water and the two lines of Dutch marines file briskly off, wading ashore knee-deep before disappearing into the darkness.
This is a light raid designed to insert troops quietly take a specific objective, avoiding alerting the enemy until the last possible moment. Later in Joint Warrior much larger numbers of troops and their equipment will be delivered from HMS Albion and RFA Lyme Bay. Another amphibious task group based around HNLMS Johan de Witt is also participating.