UK-led JEF completes final amphibious exercise of Baltic Protector

9 July 2019 (Last Updated July 9th, 2019 16:28)

The UK-led Joint Expeditionary Force (JEF) has completed the final amphibious workout of the two-month Baltic Protector deployment.

The UK-led Joint Expeditionary Force (JEF) has completed the final amphibious workout of the two-month Baltic Protector deployment.

During the final exercise, the taskforce led by UK flagship HMS Albion trained with Estonian Defence Forces personnel in the island of Saaremaa in the Gulf of Riga.

The scenario saw the EDF personnel take control of the island, while the taskforce carried out the ‘invasion’.

The Albion-led group followed a two-pronged strategy involving dummy raids on the Saaremaa island by helicopter and landing craft and attacking the well-defended main Estonian position from an unexpected direction.

Royal Marines of Yankee Company, 45 Commando yomped across Saaremaa and joined covert reconnaissance teams who were monitoring the movements of the enemy without being noticed.

The Estonian side was supported by British Army Apache helicopters in its blocking action to repel the advancing marines.

The Battle of Saaremaa exercise did not involve a pre-determined plan, which meant the forces did not know the outcome as the exercise began.

45 Commando lieutenant colonel Duncan Forbes said: “My Royal Marines, and our partners in the Estonian forces relished the opportunity to conduct challenging training in this environment. Complex training brings out the best in commandos and it is a delight to operate alongside our Estonian partners.”

The marines and British Army also practised landing a Challenger 2 tank using the marines’ large landing craft utility.

Over the next two weeks, the taskforce will conduct training and visits in the region before heading back to the UK.

The Baltic Protector deployment began in May and comprises three phases. It is the first major maritime training test of the JEF, involving 4,000 personnel and 40 ships headed by Albion.

The taskforce participated in the BALTOPS 2019 Nato exercise before embarking on the third phase of the deployment.

Established at the 2014 Nato Summit, the JEF comprises nine countries, including the UK, the Netherlands, Denmark, Norway, Sweden, Finland, Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania.

In addition to HMS Albion, the UK contingent included Type 23 frigate HMS Kent, and Royal Fleet Auxiliary ships Argus and Lyme Bay.