Vice Admiral Evangelos Apostolakis, Chief of Naval Staff (CNS) for the Hellenic Navy visited HMS Illustrious on Friday 6 September while the Ship briefly visited Souda Bay, Crete for fuel and stores.
Accompanied by Commodore Ionnes Korakakis, Director of Operations, Commodore Dimosthenis Chelmis, Commander Souda Naval Base and Ms Deborah Stokes, Deputy Head of Defence Section within the UK Embassy, the group was given a Capability Presentation by Captain Mike Utley, Commanding Officer HMS Illustrious.
Commander Nick Walker, Commander Air on board HMS Illustrious spoke about the generation process for a British warship and focused on how operational sea training and exercises such as NATO’s Joint Warrior prepares a ship for possible contingent tasking as part of the Royal Navy’s Response Force Task Group.He said:
“It was a real pleasure to host Admiral Apostolakis and his Team. The Hellenic Navy CNS was most interested in the flexibility and scalability of the Response Force Task Group and the political and military options it presents.
“The chance to look around an aircraft carrier was not to be missed and he was particularly engaged with the command and control of aviation operations and the concept of operations for Task Groups.”
The Hellenic delegation received a tour of HMS Illustrious which included an amphibious demonstration in the aircraft hangar, a capability presentation on the Lynx Mark 8 and Mark 7 helicopter, a walk around the flight deck, and a visit to the Bridge, Flying Control and the Operations Room.
The Cougar 13 deployment will operate in the Mediterranean, Red Sea, Arabian Gulf, and Horn of Africa.
It involves exercising with partner nations, and will show the UK Armed Forces’ capacity to project an effective maritime component anywhere in the world as part of the Royal Navy’s Response Force Task Group, commanded by Commodore Paddy McAlpine OBE ADC Royal Navy.
The RFTG is the United Kingdom’s high readiness maritime force, made up of ships, submarines, aircraft and a landing force of Royal Marines, at five days notice to act in response to any contingency tasking including humanitarian disaster relief or international military intervention.
HMS Illustrious the Portsmouth based amphibious helicopter and commando carrier is part of the Royal Navy’s Response Force Task Group and deployed with the Cougar 13 Task Group.
The Cougar 13 Task Group is a versatile, flexible and scalable force at very high readiness prepared to react to any contingency as directed by Ministers, and will undertake international engagement and bilateral training with strategic partners throughout the Mediterranean and Arabian Gulf region.
Press Release, September 10, 2013; Image: Royal Navy