ROYAL NAVY Flagship, HMS Bulwark, RFA Wave Knight and RFA Lyme Bay arrive in Gibraltar today for the annual four-month deployment exercise, known as Cougar 14.
The cougar deployment is a series of demanding naval and amphibious exercises undertaken over four months all throughout the Mediterranean and the Middle East, instructed by the UK government.
HMS Bulwark can accommodate two Chinook or Merlin helicopters on her flight deck. She has a crew of 350 men, a quarter of which are four Assault Squadron Royal Marines and 225 Royal Marines, all in dedicated accommodation for long periods of time. She also carries another 500 for short periods of time.
She has been loaded with 50 vehicles including Land Rovers, trucks, logistic machines and armoured amphibious all-terrain Vikings.
The commanding officer of HMS Bulwark, Captain Dean Bassett, said, “Cougar 14 is a strategically important deployment for HMS Bulwark and marks the culmination of a huge amount of hard work by my ship’s company over the past few months to ensure we are able to support Cougar 14 and be ready for contingent operations.”
He added, “the deployment not only demonstrates to our partners and allies just how flexible and versatile maritime forces can be – it also physically embodies how the Royal Navy protects the nation’s interests overseas.”
The operation establishes the capabilities of the Response Force Task Group, validating their ability to assign a highly efficient UK maritime force anywhere in the world.