The Royal Navy has trained with the Swedish Amphibious Corps on exercises designed to strengthen ties between the two Joint Expeditionary Force (JEF) nations. HMS Albion and RFA Mounts Bay are in the Baltic Sea as part of the Littoral Response Group (North) deployment and – before heading on large-scale training with militaries from 18 nations on the annual NATO Baltops exercises – they linked up with the 1st Marine Regiment of the Swedish Amphibious Corps to keep the two nations working seamlessly together.
The UK-led JEF Maritime Task Group – consisting of Denmark, Finland, Estonia, Iceland, Latvia, Lithuania, the Netherlands, Sweden, Norway, and the UK – is poised to respond to crises whenever and wherever they unfold, so training like this is important to keep personnel ready for any missions. The ships – both of which are equipped and designed to support Royal Marines on amphibious operations – worked with Swedish CB90-class fast assault craft and amphibious hovercraft (LCAC(M)), the largest such craft to embark in Albion, on docking operations in Mysingen fjord (in the southern part of the Stockholm Archipelago).
Lieutenant Colonel Andreas Holmberg, Commanding Officer of the 5th Amphibious Battalion, 1st Marine Regiment, said: “I’m very grateful for what we’ve achieved today. Thanks to a very professional reception and a well-orchestrated exercise we’ve been able to enhance our relationship and ability to work alongside each other even further. I’m confident that the exchange of experiences and expertise between our personnel contributes to the security of the Baltic Sea region.”
Lieutenant Commander Matthew Irwin, Principal Warfare Officer in HMS Albion and UK lead for the exercise, said: “Our Swedish Amphibious Corps counterparts are highly skilled and professional – it was a delight working with them. Docking operations with CB90s is a well-practiced evolution by both sides, so the process was straight forward. The first ever embarkation of the LCAC(M) was a particular highlight of the day, with the hovercraft conducting several entries to the dock.”
Royal Marines landing craft and Offshore Raiding Craft joined the CB90s on navigation exercises through the complex archipelago – which is a cluster of some 30,000 islands, skerries and rocks and the second-largest archipelago in the Baltic Sea – refreshing their ability to work together. To finish off their training, the two forces conducted a passing exercise (PASSEX), which involved a series of complex manoeuvres with all ships and craft working in tandem, all in the confines of the fjords. The Littoral Response Group (North) Task Group now prepares to participate in Baltops 50; the largest multinational exercise taking place in the Baltic Sea.
The Amphibious Corps (Swedish: Amfibiekåren) is the coastal defence arm of the Swedish Navy. Until 2000 it was known as the Coastal Artillery (Swedish: Kustartilleriet), but the name was changed to reflect its different role in a post-Cold War world, where its amphibious special operations arm, Kustjägarna, has grown in significance while its coastal batteries have been decommissioned. CB90 (Stridsbåt 90) class fast assault craft is a class of fast military assault craft used by several countries after being originally developed for the Swedish Navy by Dockstavarvet.