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● Zulu Company, 45 Cdo, brought to shore by landing craft

Picture: PO(Phot) Dave Husbands

● HMS Ocean basking in the Norwegian sunshine

Picture: LA(Phot) (A very cold) Bernie Henesy

● Zulu Company, 45 Cdo, ashore during Exercise Cold Response

Picture: PO(Phot) Dave Husbands

Mosaic in

T’S COLD in Norway. This is no revelation to you, o reader. And no revelation to the 8,500 people from 14 nations who have been exercising amid the frozen hills and


fjords on Cold Response.

Amphibious operations always call to mind a complex interlocking mosaic of sea, land and air operations as the punch of the green-bereted ground troops are launched from ship to shore by helicopter and landing craft. And so to this year’s Cold Response, where British ships HMS Albion, HMS Ocean, RFA Wave Knight and RFA Mounts Bay joined forces with the Dutch assault ship HMNLS Johan de Witt, which played host to the command staff of the UK Amphibious Task Force. The 88 Brits formed the core of the Maritime Component Command on the Dutch ship, which suffered a further squeeze when 356 embarked military forces – 45 Commando’s Yankee Company and the US Marine Corps Fox Company of the 2nd Battalion, 25th Marine Regiment – came on board at the height of the exercise. The Johan de Witt, a Rotterdam-class assault ship, should not have proven too alien to its RN and RM visitors, as the first Rotterdam served as the blueprint for the Bay-class RFAs in the British fleet. This is the first time since 2005 that the American

marines have taken part in Cold Response; although they obviously relished working with their British counterparts. Lt Col Anthony Lanza, the battalion’s commanding

officer, said: “We came into this exercise with the goal of training alongside our NATO allies, getting Marines back on ship, and planning and executing cold weather operations. The US Marines enjoyed getting the chance to

work within the British command team – “Our staff was able to learn the terms, language and procedures of the other militaries involved in the exercise,” he said.

“Our Marines seamlessly filled several billets under the British command.

“We will walk away from this with new experiences, new knowledge and even some new friends as well.”

Maj Erik Norton, CO of Fox Company, described their experiences out in the field: “The terrain was physically tough, rocky and mountainous. “You take a few steps into the snow and it might

● Offshore Raiding Craft carrying Royal Marines

feel strong, then you take another few steps and fall through deep snow. The Marines did a great job considering they had never really dealt with this before.”

Of course, for the Royal Marines and their cold

weather expertise, the ardours of Norway are a regular event. But it seems that the Americans brought a few new tricks to the icy training. The US Marines ran martial arts training inside HMS Ocean’s vast helicopter hangar under their Marine Corps Martial Arts Programme (MCMAP). Staff Sgt Justino Vasquez, a MCMAP black-belt

instructor trainer, said of his RM brethren: “They are more into boxing, but they are interested in the programme. “The first day we had two Royal Marines, but their

numbers at least doubled every day since.” Royal Marine Capt Ross Drinkwater, in charge of 45 Cdo’s Mortar Troop, was one of the participants: “The programme was well delivered and easy to understand. It seem to be based around large, basic moves, which can be achieved wearing fighting order.” For the Royal Marines, Cold Response followed on from their eight weeks of cold-weather training on the ground in Exercise Lupus 2. Cold Response brought the ground forces back on board ship in a scenario designed to test the UK and other nation’s ability at maritime theatre entry – or getting your troops ashore when access from land isn’t an option. The ships, aircraft and marines made their presence felt from the sea until the demand came for forces pushed ashore.

Among Commando Helicopter Force assets

gathered in the frozen north were two Sea Kings from 845 and 846 Naval Air Squadrons and four green Lynx from 847 NAS. These were also featured in CHF’s annual

Clockwork deployment to Bardufoss, which saw some 200 people put through their paces in cold- weather flying, and the Naval pilots hosted Chinooks, green Merlins and Pumas from the Joint Helicopter Command.

Picture: PO(Phot) Dave Husbands

● Landing Platform Dock (Auxiliary) RFA Mounts Bay working with landing craft

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