A British Royal Navy descends the helicopter rope onto the Royal Navy’s flagship HMS Albion during naval exercises between Britain, France and Cyprus off Limassol, Cyprus on Tuesday October 27, 2020. [Petros Karadjias/AP]
The main part of the exercise involved Cypriot special forces and British Royal Marines boarding an allegedly hijacked ship by rapidly descending from hovering helicopters as small, maneuverable speedboats came alongside the ship. .
“It is the UK doing its part to demonstrate our commitment to European safety and security while working with our NATO allies and partners,” said the Deputy Strike Force Commander , Captain Phil Dennis at The Associated Press.
British military officials said the joint training with Cypriot forces also demonstrated a shared commitment to regional stability and a determination to further strengthen a bilateral defense relationship.
“Cyprus is a very important partner for the UK in the Eastern Mediterranean and in the Mediterranean region in general,” said Captain Dennis, adding that the exercise offered “a great chance for us to see and experience the understanding and knowing each other. ”
The UK retained two military bases in Cyprus after the eastern Mediterranean island gained independence from British colonial rule in 1960.
The exercise comes amid continuing tensions with neighboring Turkey over rights to explore and drill for oil and gas around war-torn Cyprus.
The 20,400-ton HMS Albion, with a crew of 400, is an amphibious assault ship that can quickly deploy Royal Marines to land using its Wildcat helicopters or a pair of landing craft.
Officials said the deployment which included the HMS Dragon air defense destroyer also allowed personnel to experiment with new, high-tech tools that could help troops complete an assigned mission. These tools include a powerful drone that can carry up to 150 pounds (70 kilograms) of supplies or ammunition to frontline troops.