Standing Royal Navy deployments

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Standing Royal Navy deployments is a list of operations and commitments undertaken by the United Kingdom's Royal Navy on a worldwide basis.[1] The following list details these commitments and deployments sorted by region and in alphabetical order. Routine deployments made by the Navy's nuclear-powered submarines and their location of operations is classified.


Antarctic Patrol[edit]

Protector on Antarctic Patrol

Antarctic Patrol is undertaken by the Royal Navy's Antarctic Patrol and Icebreaker, HMS Protector, in the South Atlantic Ocean. Its primary mission is "surveying and gathering data on the seas around Antarctica" while also providing support to the British Antarctic Survey operation stationed in and around the British Antarctic Territory.[2] Two Royal Research Ships of the Merchant Navy are also stationed in the region; RRS James Clark Ross and RRS Ernest Shackleton.

Atlantic Patrol Tasking North[edit]

Drugs seized by Argyll on Atlantic Patrol Tasking North

This is the Royal Navy's commitment to secure and protect the interests of Great Britain and her Overseas Territories in the regions of the North Atlantic and the Caribbean. The deployment primarily conducts counter narcotics missions and provides humanitarian assistance during hurricane season.[3] The task is typically carried out by a single warship.[4] Atlantic Patrol Tasking North was formerly known as the West Indies Guard Ship.[5]

Atlantic Patrol Tasking South[edit]

The Royal Navy maintains a permanent presence in the South Atlantic and West Africa to provide "ongoing protection and reassurance to British interests" such as the sovereignty of the Falkland Islands and South Georgia, while also supporting British Forces South Atlantic Islands. The commitment consists of two warships; either a guided-missile destroyer or frigate accompanied by a Royal Fleet Auxiliary vessel.[6]

Falkland Islands Patrol Task[edit]

Clyde patrols off West Falkland

The Falkland Islands Patrol Task consists of a single warship (an Offshore Patrol Vessel) stationed around the EEZ of the Falkland Islands. It forms part of British Forces South Atlantic Islands and aims to reassure the inhabitants of the region and maintain British sovereignty. HMS Clyde has been permanently assigned to the task since her commission.[7] Clyde uses the deepwater naval base facilities of Mare Harbour, East Falkland.

Standing NRF Maritime Group 1[edit]

The Standing NRF Maritime Group 1 is part of the wider NATO Response Force, its standard area of operations is the Atlantic Ocean.[8] As of January 2016, the type 23 frigate HMS Iron Duke was the latest British contribution to the task force.[9]

British and Northern European Waters[edit]

Cold Weather Training[edit]

Royal Marines during the annual Cold Weather Training exercise

Cold Weather Training is a Royal Navy commitment to the annual Norwegian-led exercise in the Arctic regions. Its purpose is to build and strengthen military ties and to enable the Royal Marines and Royal Navy sailors to "fight and win" in extreme conditions.[10]

Fishery Protection[edit]

The Fishery Protection Squadron is charged with protecting the British fishing industry, providing security to the oil and gas fields in the North Sea and other duties in the United Kingdoms Exclusive economic zone. It consists of three warships (OPVs); HMS Tyne (P281), HMS Severn (P282) and HMS Mersey (P283).[11]

Flag Officer Sea Training[edit]

Training in UK Home Waters is essential for preparing both crews and ships before overseas deployment. Flag Officer Sea Training is responsible for making sure that both Royal Navy and Royal Fleet Auxiliary ships are fit for operational propose after rigorous exercises and readiness inspections. This commitment is ongoing 365 days a year.[12]

Joint Warrior[edit]

HMS Diamond (D34) during Joint Warrior 2013

Exercise Joint Warrior is a Royal Navy (and wider British Armed Forces) commitment to engage in an biannual tri-service exercise (including multinational NATO forces) intended to achieve enhanced military effect. It is the largest military exercise in Europe.[13]

Towed Array Patrol Ship[edit]

TAPS is a standing task for reactive anti-submarine patrol duties in support of the strategic nuclear deterrent.[14] A Type 23 frigate is maintained at high readiness for this task 365 days a year.[15]

East of Suez[edit]

This is a list of operations and commitments presently undertaken by the Royal Navy East of Suez in the Red Sea, Gulf of Aden, Persian Gulf, Arabian Sea, the wider Indian Ocean and the Far East:

Combined Task Force[edit]

The Royal Navy regularly contributes to two multinational coalitions; Combined Task Force 150 and Combined Task Force 151. Combined Task Force 150 is focused on maritime security and counter-terrorism; while Combined Task Force 151 is charged with anti-piracy missions. As of 2014 the Royal Navy deploys a single warship to CTF 150, HMS Somerset (F82).[16]

Humanitarian Missions[edit]

The Royal Navy remains committed to providing humanitarian aid where possible. During the 2004 Indian Ocean earthquake and tsunami the Royal Navy responded by deploying RFA Diligence (A132) and the frigate HMS Chatham (F87) with Westland Lynx helicopters to provide assistance.[17] In 2014, the Royal Navy deployed HMS Echo (H87) (a multi-role hydrographic survey ship) and HMS Tireless (S88) (a nuclear-powered fleet submarine) to search for the missing Malaysia Airlines Flight 370 in the Indian Ocean Region.[18]

Operation Atalanta[edit]

Operation Atalanta is a European Union multinational task force charged to combat terrorism and piracy off the Horn of Africa and Somalia. Operational headquarters are located in the United Kingdom at Northwood Headquarters, London.[19] British ships in the region are usually assigned to CTF. Occasionally, a UK officer is tapped as the Commander of OP Atalanta.[20]

Operation Kipion[edit]

The Royal Navy maintains a continued maritime presence in the Gulf and Indian Ocean regions to protect and secure the nations many political and commercial interests. The enduring commitment usually consists of an escort (a guided-missile destroyer or frigate), a supporting Royal Fleet Auxiliary ship and several other ships with various roles.[21] As of 2014, RFA Fort Austin (A386), RFA Diligence (A132) and HMS Somerset (F82) are assigned to the task. 43 Commando Fleet Protection Group Royal Marines are also assigned to the task force.[21] Operation Kipion was formerly known as the Armilla patrol during the 1980s and 1990s.

Operation Kipion Mine Countermeasures[edit]

The mine countermeasure vessels Ramsey, Shoreham and Quorn in the Gulf along with the destroyer Diamond and dock landing ship Cardigan Bay in 2012

The Royal Navy maintains a permanent presence in the Gulf consisting of mine countermeasure vessels. It provides continued support to the region ensuring the "safe flow of trade and oil". Presently four vessels are deployed to the region; HMS Quorn (M41), HMS Atherstone (M38), HMS Shoreham (M112) and HMS Ramsey (M110).[22] Typically the mine countermeasure vessels are supported by a Royal Fleet Auxiliary ship acting as a 'mothership'. In 2012 RFA Cardigan Bay (L3009) (pictured right) was tasked to support the vessels.


Continuous At Sea Deterrent[edit]

A Trident II D-5 ballistic missile launched from a Vanguard-class submarine

The Continuous At Sea Deterrent (or Nuclear Deterrent) is provided by the Royal Navy's four Vanguard-class submarines which deploy on a continuous basis around the globe. The Vanguard-class are each armed with a maximum of 16 Trident II D-5 submarine-launched ballistic missiles and 48 nuclear warheads.[23]


Exercise Cougar is a routine large scale international exercise held by the Royal Navy. It was created under the 2010 Strategic Defence and Security Review to demonstrate the operational readiness of the Response Force Task Group (RFTG) to respond to threats worldwide. Unlike Joint Warrior, exercise COUGAR deploys outside of the United Kingdom (primarily to the Mediterranean and Indian Ocean) to demonstrate "its [RFTG] ability to operate as a rapid reaction force on behalf of the UK and, importantly, underlines the global reach and flexibility of the modern Royal Navy."[24][25] As an international exercise, the RFTG gets the chance to engage in "intense" exercises with foreign and allied navies, such as (for example) the Royal Navy of Oman.[26]

Fleet Ready Escort[edit]

The Fleet Ready Escort (FRE) is a single warship maintained at high-readiness for deployment at short notice anywhere in the world. The FRE consists of either a guided-missile destroyer or a frigate.[1] As of January 2014, this commitment has been 'gapped' by the Royal Navy twice; for 19 days in 2011 and 18 days in 2012.[27]

International Partnerships[edit]

Daring alongside the USS Enterprise (CVN-65)

The Royal Navy remains committed to working with its International Partners around the globe. The principal purpose of these partnerships is to reassure allied nations, to share intelligence and expertise, to build trust and ultimately provide security across the worlds oceans.[28] Examples of such International Partnerships of which the Royal Navy plays a leading role include; the maritime component of the Anglo-French Combined Joint Expeditionary Force (CJEF), the North Atlantic Treaty Organization, AUSCANNZUKUS, the European Maritime Force and the Five Power Defence Arrangements. The United Kingdom is a member of RIMPAC also, although it hasn't participated in way of deploying a surface ship in several years.

NATO Mine Countermeasures[edit]

This is the Royal Navy's commitment to support NATO MCM operations in the Baltic, Northern European Waters, the Atlantic and the Mediterranean Sea (though it is capable of deploying globally if needed). There are two organisational structures; Standing NATO Mine Countermeasures Group 1 and Standing NATO Mine Countermeasures Group 2. As of 2014, HMS Blyth (M111) is deployed in the Mediterranean for NATO MCMV training exercises.[29]

Response Force Task Group[edit]

Response Force Task Group (RFTG) is the Royal Navy's expeditionary task force maintained at high-readiness and available at short notice to respond to unexpected global events. In addition to war-fighting or amphibious operations, the RFTG can undertake a diverse range of activities such as evacuation operations, disaster relief or humanitarian aid.[30] The composition of the RFTG changes depending on its task and the range of available assets. However, it generally consists of several large amphibious warfare ships (both RN and RFA), guided-missile destroyers, frigates, replenishment ships from the Royal Fleet Auxiliary and sometimes a nuclear-powered fleet submarine.


Gibraltar Squadron[edit]

Sabre providing maritime security to the British territorial waters of Gibraltar

The Gibraltar Squadron consists of two fast patrol boats; HMS Scimitar (P284) and HMS Sabre (P285). They provide force protection for NATO or coalition warships entering the naval facilities of Gibraltar and conduct maritime security in the surrounding British territorial waters.[31]

Standing NRF Maritime Group 2[edit]

The Royal Navy routinely provides a single warship to the Standing NRF Maritime Group 2 (part of the NATO Response Force). The standard area of operations for the Standing NRF Maritime Group 2 is the Mediterranean Sea.[8] As of July 2013, the Royal Navy hasn't assigned a warship to Standing NATO Maritime Group 2 since 2012.[32]

Special Purpose Task Group[edit]

In April 2016, IHS Jane's reported that the Royal Navy had formed a new marine task group, named the Special Purpose Task Group (SPTG), in December 2015. The task group is reportedly 150-strong and centred around Zulu Company of 45 Commando Royal Marines. The SPTG's first operational deployment was in January 2016 to the Mediterranean on board RFA Mounts Bay (L3008). Additional personnel from 29 Regiment Royal Artillery, 17 Port and Maritime Regiment of the Royal Logistic Corps, 24 Engineer Regiment, and 30 (Information Exploitation) Commando Royal Marines were attached to provide specialist capabilities and expertise.[33]


Humanitarian Missions[edit]

Although the Royal Navy no-longer maintains a permanent naval presence in the Pacific Ocean, it is always committed to providing humanitarian aid where possible. When Typhoon Haiyan struck the Philippines in late 2013, the Royal Navy deployed HMS Daring (D32) and HMS Illustrious (R06) as part of the United Kingdom's humanitarian aid mission to the region (known as Operation Patwin).[34]


As of late 2014, warships deployed on the Atlantic Patrol Tasking South have routinely extended their operations into the South Pacific. The latest warship to be deployed is HMS Lancaster, departing the United Kingdom on 21 March 2015 for a 9-month deployment to the region.[35] Lancaster relieved HMS Dragon which had been deployed since October 2014.[36] In April 2016, the Royal Navy successfully attained Observer membership of the Western Pacific Naval Symposium (WPNS).[37]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b "The Royal Navy Deployed Forward Operating Globally" (PDF). Royal Navy. Retrieved 21 May 2014. 
  2. ^ Antarctic Patrol,, Retrieved 1 June 2014
  3. ^ Atlantic Patrol Tasking North,, Retrieved 1 June 2014
  4. ^ Tony Skinner, 'RN cuts back Standing Task commitments,' Jane's Defence Weekly, 20 July 2005, p.12
  5. ^ "West Indies Guard Ship". Retrieved 5 September 2008. 
  6. ^ Atlantic Patrol Tasking South,, Retrieved 1 June 2014
  7. ^ Falkland Islands Patrol Task,, Retrieved 1 June 2014
  8. ^ a b Standing NATO Maritime Group 1 and 2,, Retrieved 2 June 2014
  9. ^ HMS Iron Duke deploys,, January 2016
  10. ^ Cold Weather Training,, Retrieved 2 February 2015
  11. ^ Fishery Protection
  12. ^ Training,, Retrieved 2 June 2014
  13. ^ Joint Warrior,, Retrieved 2 June 2014
  14. ^ Ministry of Defence. "Freedom of Information response to Mr A J Howell" (pdf). 
  15. ^ "House of Commons Written Answers c121W". UK Parliament. 28 March 2011. 
  16. ^ CTF 150,, Retrieved 2 June 2014
  17. ^ UK boosts help for tsunami victims,, 31 December 2004
  18. ^ Search For MH370,, Retrieved 2 June 2014
  19. ^ Spanish Ambassador Visits Operational Headquarters in the United Kingdom,, 28 May 2014
  20. ^ U appoints new Operation Commander for EU NAVFOR Somalia,, 18 May 2016
  21. ^ a b Operation Kipion,, Retrieved 2 June 2014
  22. ^ Operation Kipion Mine Countermeasures,, Retrieved 2 June 2014
  23. ^ Continuous At Sea Deterrent,, Retrieved 2 June 2014
  24. ^ Royal Navy sails for annual ‘Cougar’ deployment,, 09 August 2013
  25. ^ Royal Navy set for Cougar 13,, 08 August 2013
  26. ^ Royal Navy sharpens claws for Exercise Omani Cougar,, 25 October 2013
  27. ^ House of Commons Hansard Written Answers ( 27 January 2014
  28. ^ International Partnerships,, Retrieved 2 June 2014
  29. ^ NATO Mine Countermeasures,, Retrieved 2 June 2014
  30. ^ Royal Navy ready for unforeseen global events,, 9 May 2011
  31. ^ Gibraltar Squadron,, Retrieved 2 June 2014
  32. ^ House of Commons Hansard Written Answers ( 17 July 2013
  33. ^ "UK forms new marine task group". IHS Jane's. 14 April 2016. 
  34. ^ Operation Patwin,, Retrieved 2014
  35. ^ HMS Lancaster deploys,, Retrieved March 2015
  36. ^ HMS Dragon leaves Portsmouth on deployment,,Retrieved 2015
  37. ^ Royal Navy joins partners in Asia-Pacific region,, 15/04/2016

External links[edit]