The Royal Navy amphibious assault ship, HMS Albion will deploy to become the NATO Flagship leading an international task group.
The ship is due to sail from Plymouth early next week to head the Standing NATO Maritime Group 2 (SNMG2), operating in the Mediterranean.
Captain Tim Neild, HMS Albion commanding officer, said, “It is a huge privilege for us to fly the flag of the NATO task group commander in such a high profile deployment.
“This symbolises the importance that the UK and the Royal Navy places on our role in NATO and in assuring the collective defence and security of NATO allies and partners.’’
The ship’s company and Devonport Naval Base is alive with activity as the ship makes her final preparations. Tonnes of stores, vehicles, boats, spares, food and equipment is craned on to the massive flight deck and transported into the cavernous vehicle deck via the side ramp. A Royal Marines group will also be embarking.
This new tasking fulfils a vital contingency role for NATO in the Mediterranean. The task group will protect NATO interests by promoting security and stability in the region whilst offering options for NATO to deal with any emergent tasking.
Over the coming months, HMS Albion will undertake presence and security operations as well as conducting multi-national exercises aimed at increasing the way the navies of the task group work together.
The commander of SNMG2, Commodore Mike Utley, said, “Our role in NATO sits right at the heart of British Government policy to reinforce our commitment to international partners and their broader security.
“What better way for the UK to contribute than to lead this task group from HMS Albion – I am immensely proud to command such a highly professional and internationally diverse force.’’
HMS Albion is returning to operations after a two-year period of extensive modernisation and a programme of training and sea trials.