Royal Marines undergo Small Craft Gunners’ course

16 May 2019 (Last Updated May 16th, 2019 10:10)

British Royal Marines gunners and coxswains are testing their ability to hit enemy targets from their fast raiding craft as part of a training course off the Welsh coast. 

Royal Marines undergo Small Craft Gunners’ course
The firing exercises were conducted in the rough seas around the Welsh coast. Credit: Royal Navy.

British Royal Marines gunners and coxswains are testing their ability to hit enemy targets from their fast raiding craft as part of a training course off the Welsh coast.

539 Assault Squadron of 1 Assault Group Royal Marines and gunners of Air Defence Troop, 30 Commando IX participated in the course for two weeks. Training is being conducted as part of Exercise Dragon Fire.

During their stay at the Castlemartin Ranges in Pembrokeshire, the forces fired on shoreline targets in the tactical phase of the exercises.

Marines used the fire support variant of the Offshore Raiding Craft (ORC) to fire on targets from the sea during day and night.

The ORCs have the ability to achieve a maximum speed of up to 50mph and can carry weapons, including general purpose machines guns (GPMG), .50 heavy machine guns (HMG) and grenade machine guns (GMGs).

The rough seas around the Welsh coast created an ‘ideal test scenario’ for the personnel who participated in the training. The boats are small in size and unstable in waters.

2 Troop 539 coxswain lance corporal Jake Fonseka said: “You definitely need to be aware of everything that’s coming in and understand how it will affect the craft that will in turn affect the gunners.

“You definitely need to be aware of everything that’s coming in and understand how it will affect the craft that will in turn affect the gunners.”

“There’s been quite a lot of sea state, so when we had more junior coxswains on the craft it’s quite key to get a grip on them to ensure they understand their situational awareness and pre-empt any waves heading your way, especially when the gunners are getting the rounds down.”

Following the opening two-week section of the Small Craft Gunners’ Course, the marines gained an initial level of expertise.

Forces will then return for the tactical phase of training that involves a ground combat element to test control and ability of marines to interoperate with forces allies.