Page last updated at 01:13 GMT, Wednesday, 18 February 2009

Navy on international exercise

Mike Critchley of Warship World magazine describes where the troops will be going

The biggest naval deployment for more than a decade has set off from Plymouth.

The TAURUS 09 task force, involving 12 ships and 3,300 personnel, set sail earlier from Devonport naval base.

It will engage in training operations in the Mediterranean before deploying through the Suez Canal and culminating in exercises in the jungles of Brunei.

The six-month operation has taken 18 months to plan and will cover 20,400 miles (32,831km).

'Routine' operation

The Ministry of Defence (MoD) has described it as a routine deployment of the Royal Navy's Amphibious Task Group.

The aim is to maintain its fighting capability as well as develop the UK's capacity to operate with key partners and allies from Nato countries and other nations.

Units involved
Royal Marines, 40 Commando
Fleet Diving Unit
Assault Squadron Royal Marines
Elements of 820 and 857 Naval Air Squadrons (NAS)
847 NAS and Commando Helicopter Force (CHF) Sea Kings
Support Helicopter Force Chinooks from 18 Squadron

The Task Group comprises of 10 Royal Navy vessels based in the south west of England including two nuclear-powered submarines, and will also involve a US Navy destroyer and a French Navy frigate.

The Task Group will conduct a wide range of activities, including maritime security operations, and exercising amphibious warfare.

Admiral Sir Mark Stanhope, Commander-in-Chief, Fleet, said the Royal Navy wanted to concentrate on getting its marines ashore as efficiently as possible and also focus on its ability to conduct anti-submarine warfare.

"Most importantly we want to make sure we can command and control and support our operations at range from the United Kingdom," he added.

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