The Royal Navy amphibious assault ship HMS
Bulwark has returned to the operational fleet after 12 months of maintenance. During the recent Exercise South
West Sabre the ship carried 150 Commandos from 42 Commando Royal Marines, 29
Regiment Royal Artillery, and Commando Logistic Regiment. Bulwark launched a
series of mock amphibious raids and assaults on simulated targets in Cornwall,
United Kingdom, using her own landing craft and Sea King helicopters from 845
and 846 Naval Air Squadrons. HMS Bulwark was supported by the German frigate
FGS Rheinland Phalz. She is due to take over from her sister ship HMS Albion as
the amphibious flagship of the Royal Navy fleet in December 2007 prior to
acting as the flagship leading a task group during February 2008's amphibious
exercise in Norway.
The 21,000 ton HMS Bulwark entered service in late 2004. It is an Albion class amphibious ship with a crew of 390. Nearly a hundred of the crew are actually Royal Marines of 4 Assault Squadron Royal Marines. Albion class ships carry 700 troops. These are carried ashore via the flight deck on two Chinook and two Merlin helicopters. In the rear of the ship is an internal dock with four landing craft, while another four are carried on the ship.
Type 42 destroyers HMS Edinburgh and HMS
Liverpool recently conducted practice firings of Sea Dart anti-aircraft missiles. Sea Dart missiles weigh 1100 pounds and have a range of 55 kilometers. Six missiles were fired, three
from each ship. All missiles hit the MIRACH target drones they were aimed at. MIRACHs are 500 pound, remotely controlled aircraft, with a 12 foot wingspan. The Sea Dart has been in service for three decades, and missiles are fired at targets periodically not just to train the crews, but as a form of quality control for the missiles, and the maintenance provided by the ship crews. -- John Peterborough