Standing Royal Navy deployments

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Standing Royal Navy deployments is a list of operations and commitments undertaken by the United Kingdom's Royal Navy on a worldwide basis.[1] The following list details these commitments and deployments sorted by region and in alphabetical order. Routine deployments made by the Navy's nuclear-powered submarines and their location of operations is classified.


Antarctic Patrol

Protector on Antarctic Patrol

Antarctic Patrol is undertaken by the Royal Navy's Icebreaker and survey ship, HMS Protector, in the South Atlantic Ocean. Its primary mission is "surveying and gathering data on the seas around Antarctica" while also providing support to the British Antarctic Survey operation stationed in and around the British Antarctic Territory.[2] A Royal Research Ship is also stationed in the region; RRS Sir David Attenborough.

Atlantic Patrol Tasking North

HMS Ambuscade at the South Yard (HMS Malabar) of the Royal Naval Dockyard, Bermuda in 1988

Formerly known as the West Indies Guard Ship.[3] This is the Royal Navy's commitment to secure and protect the interests of the United Kingdom and British Overseas Territories in the regions of the North Atlantic and the Caribbean. The deployment primarily conducts counter narcotics missions and provides humanitarian assistance during hurricane season.[4]

This tasking was augmented by Operation Ruman in 2017 as a result of damage caused by Hurricane Irma.[5]

The task is typically carried out by a single warship, or more recently by a River-class patrol vessel or a Royal Fleet Auxiliary vessel.[6] As of September 2021, HMS Medway (P223) and RFA Wave Knight (A389) are assigned.[7]

Atlantic Patrol Tasking South

The Royal Navy has maintained a permanent presence in the South Atlantic and West Africa to provide "ongoing protection and reassurance to British interests" such as the sovereignty of the Falkland Islands and South Georgia, while also supporting British Forces South Atlantic Islands. The commitment has, at times, consisted of two warships; either a guided-missile destroyer or frigate accompanied by a Royal Fleet Auxiliary vessel.[8] Since 2015, a major warship has not been deployed.[9] As of 2020, the commitment is maintained by the Offshore Patrol Vessel HMS Forth. The 2021 defence white paper indicated that henceforth, one River-class offshore patrol vessel, HMS Trent, would be permanently based in Gibraltar for operations in the Mediterranean and also in the Gulf of Guinea.[10]

Falkland Islands Patrol Task

Clyde patrols off West Falkland

The Falkland Islands Patrol Task consists of a single warship (an Offshore Patrol Vessel) stationed around the EEZ of the Falkland Islands. It forms part of British Forces South Atlantic Islands and aims to reassure the inhabitants of the region and maintain British sovereignty.

HMS Forth (P222) has been permanently assigned to the task since November 2019.[11] Forth uses the deepwater naval base facilities of East Cove Military Port at Mare Harbour, East Falkland.

Standing NATO Maritime Group 1

The Standing NATO Maritime Group 1 is part of the wider NATO Response Force, its standard area of operations is the Atlantic Ocean.[12] As of March 2021, the latest contribution to the task group was the Type 23's HMS Lancaster and HMS Westminster supported by RFA Tiderace (A137), all on short taskings whilst operating under the Joint Expeditionary Force.

British and Northern European Waters


Baltops is an annual 2-week exercise run by the US Navy. It is an exercise in which several NATO members come together to take part in a huge multinational exercise designed to strengthen the bonds of international partnership. The 2021 exercises included Royal Navy ships HMS Albion and RFA Mounts Bay.

Cold Weather Training

Royal Marines during the annual Cold Weather Training exercise in the Norwegian Arctic

Cold Weather Training is a Royal Navy commitment to the annual Norwegian-led exercise in the Arctic regions. Its purpose is to build and strengthen military ties and to enable the Royal Marines and Royal Navy sailors to "fight and win" in extreme conditions.[13]

Faslane Patrol Boat Squadron

The Faslane Patrol Boat Squadron (FPBS) provides force protection in around the waters of HMNB Clyde, where the Royal Navy's nuclear-powered submarine fleet is based. The squadron currently consists of HMS Tracker and HMS Raider.[14]

Fishery Protection

The Fishery Protection Squadron is charged with protecting the British fishing industry, providing security to the oil and gas fields in the North Sea and other duties in the United Kingdoms Exclusive economic zone. It consists of three warship; HMS Tyne, HMS Severn and HMS Mersey. In the future the Batch 1 Rivers will be forward deployed to their relevant ports; HMS Tyne in Newcastle, HMS Severn in Cardiff and HMS Mersey in Liverpool.[15]

Fleet Ready Escort

Fleet Ready Escort HMS Dragon escorting the Russian aircraft carrier, Admiral Kuznetsov, through the English Channel

The Fleet Ready Escort (FRE) is a single warship maintained at high readiness for deployment at short notice anywhere in the world. The FRE consists of either a guided-missile destroyer or a frigate.[1] As of January 2014, this commitment has been 'gapped' by the Royal Navy twice; for 19 days in 2011 and 18 days in 2012.[16]

Fleet Operational Sea Training

Training in UK Home Waters is essential for preparing both crews and ships before overseas deployment. Flag Officer Sea Training (FOST) is responsible for making sure that both Royal Navy and Royal Fleet Auxiliary ships are fit for operational purpose after rigorous exercises and readiness inspections. This commitment is ongoing 365 days a year.[17]

Joint Warrior

Exercise Joint Warrior is a Royal Navy (and wider British Armed Forces) commitment to engage in a biannual tri-service exercise (including multinational NATO forces) intended to achieve enhanced military effect. It is the largest military exercise in Europe.[18]

Towed Array Patrol Ship

Towed Array Patrol Ship (TAPS) is a standing task for reactive anti-submarine patrol duties in support of the Continuous At Sea Deterrent (Trident).[19] A Type 23 frigate is maintained at high readiness for this task 365 days a year.[20]

East of Suez

This is a list of operations and commitments presently undertaken by the Royal Navy East of Suez in the Red Sea, Gulf of Aden, Persian Gulf, Arabian Sea, the wider Indian Ocean and the Far East:

Combined Task Force

The Royal Navy regularly contributes to two multinational coalitions; Combined Task Force 150 and Combined Task Force 151. Combined Task Force 150 is focused on maritime security and counter-terrorism; while Combined Task Force 151 is charged with anti-piracy missions.[21]

Humanitarian Missions

The Royal Navy remains committed to providing humanitarian aid where possible. During the 2004 Indian Ocean earthquake and tsunami the Royal Navy responded by deploying RFA Diligence and the frigate HMS Chatham with Westland Lynx helicopters to provide assistance.[22] In 2014, the Royal Navy deployed HMS Echo (a multi-role hydrographic survey ship) and HMS Tireless (a nuclear-powered fleet submarine) to search for the missing Malaysia Airlines Flight 370 in the Indian Ocean Region.[23]

Operation Atalanta

Operation Atalanta is a European Union multinational task force charged to combat terrorism and piracy off the Horn of Africa and Somalia. Operational headquarters was located in the United Kingdom at Northwood Headquarters, London.[24] British ships in the region are usually assigned to CTF.

In November 2017 Charles Stickland (Major General of the Royal Marines) was appointed as CO of Operation Atlanta.[25]

Operation Kipion

Operation Kipion is an ongoing maritime presence in the Gulf and Indian Ocean by the Royal Navy to protect and secure the nation's many political and commercial interests. The enduring commitment usually consists of an escort (a guided-missile destroyer or frigate), a supporting Royal Fleet Auxiliary ship and several other ships with various roles.[26] Operation Kipion was formerly known as the Armilla patrol during the 1980s and 1990s.

In a new initiative the frigate HMS Montrose is forward deployed to HMS Jufair located at the Mina Salman Port in Bahrain. She will be based there till 2022. She will operate with a similar manning system to the Hunt and Sandown Class crew system, with two crews rotating every four months. This was achieved through the ship's own crew being redesignated as the Port crew, while the crew of HMS Monmouth became the Starboard crew.

Operation Kipion Mine Countermeasures

The Royal Navy maintains a permanent presence in the Gulf consisting of mine countermeasure vessels. It provides continued support to the region ensuring the "safe flow of trade and oil".[27] Typically the mine countermeasure vessels are supported by a Royal Fleet Auxiliary ship acting as a 'mothership'.

As of September 2021 the following ships are assigned. RFA Lyme Bay, HMS Chiddingfold, HMS Middleton, HMS Penzance and HMS Bangor.

Indian Ocean/Pacific Offshore Patrol Vessels

In September 2021, two Offshore Patrol Vessels, HMS Tamar and HMS Spey, sailed from the U.K. for a planned five to ten-year deployment in the Indian Ocean/Pacific region. The vessels were to be assigned missions ranging from "security patrols to deal with drug-running, smuggling, terrorism and other illegal activities" to "joining in exercises with other navies and armed forces". Crews would be rotated to the ships on a regular basis and the ships were expected to operate from friendly ports as required.[28]


Continuous At Sea Deterrent

A Trident II D-5 ballistic missile launched from a Vanguard-class submarine

The Continuous At Sea Deterrent (CASD) (or Trident) is provided by the Royal Navy's four Vanguard-class submarines which deploy on a continuous basis around the globe. The Vanguard-class are each armed with a maximum of 16 Trident II D-5 submarine-launched ballistic missiles and 48 nuclear warheads.[29]

International Partnerships

The Royal Navy remains committed to working with its International Partners around the globe. The principal purpose of these partnerships is to reassure allied nations, to share intelligence and expertise, to build trust and ultimately provide security across the worlds oceans.[30] Examples of such International Partnerships of which the Royal Navy plays a leading role include; the maritime component of the Anglo-French Combined Joint Expeditionary Force (CJEF), the North Atlantic Treaty Organization, AUSCANNZUKUS, the European Maritime Force and the Five Power Defence Arrangements. The United Kingdom is a member of RIMPAC also, although it hasn't participated in way of deploying a surface ship in several years.

Joint Expeditionary Force (Maritime)

LPH HMS Ocean during the JEF(M) Amphibious Task Group in October 2016

Joint Expeditionary Force (Maritime) (JEF(M)) -formerly the Response Force Task Group (RFTG) created under the 2010 Strategic Defence and Security Review- is the Royal Navy's amphibious expeditionary task group maintained at high-readiness and available at short notice to respond to unexpected global events. In addition to amphibious operations, the JEF(M) can undertake a diverse range of activities such as evacuation operations, disaster relief or humanitarian aid.[31] The composition of the JEF(M) generally consists of several large amphibious warfare ships (both RN and RFA) and replenishment ships from the Royal Fleet Auxiliary.

To demonstrate the operational readiness and global reach of the JEF(M), the Royal Navy deploys the amphibious task group on annual large scale international exercises, primarily in the Mediterranean and Indian Ocean.[32][33] As an international deployment, the JEF(M) gets the chance to engage in "intense" exercises with foreign and allied navies, such as (for example) the Royal Navy of Oman.[34]

The 2021 JEF (M) is centred on the Type 23's HMS Lancaster and HMS Westminster supported by RFA Tiderace (A137) where they are operating in the Baltic. HMS Lancaster is the flagship for the group. The group comprises Estonian, Latvian and Lithuanian vessels supported by aircraft from Sweden. The group have recently been operating with SNMG1 within the baltic.

NATO Mine Countermeasures

This is the Royal Navy's commitment to support NATO MCM operations in the Baltic, Northern European Waters, the Atlantic and the Mediterranean Sea (though it is capable of deploying globally if needed). There are two organisational structures; Standing NATO Mine Countermeasures Group 1 and Standing NATO Mine Countermeasures Group 2.[35]

As of June 2021 the latest ship to be assigned was HMS Pembroke (M107) with Standing NATO Mine Countermeasures Group 1.

UK Carrier Strike Group

Since 2015, the Royal Navy has maintained a carrier strike group based around the Queen Elizabeth-class aircraft carriers with the aim to facilitate carrier-enabled power projection.[36][37] It took to sea for the first time in October 2020 and its inaugural operational deployment is scheduled for 2021.[38] CGS21 will demonstrate a fully sovereign UK carrier strike group comprising:[39] HMS Queen Elizabeth (R08), HMS Diamond (D34), HMS Defender (D36), HMS Kent (F78), HMS Richmond (F239), an attack submarine of the Astute class, RFA Fort Victoria (A387) and a Tide-class tanker. Also accompanying will be a U.S. Navy destroyer USS The Sullivans.


Gibraltar Squadron

Merlin HC3 of 846 NAS with HMS Scimitar in British territorial waters off Gibraltar

The Gibraltar Squadron consists of two fast patrol boats: HMS Dasher and HMS Pursuer. The squadron provides force protection for NATO or coalition warships entering the naval facilities of Gibraltar and conduct maritime security in the surrounding British territorial waters.[40] The 2021 defence white paper indicated that henceforth, one River-class offshore patrol vessel, HMS Trent, would also be permanently based in Gibraltar for operations in the Mediterranean and in the Gulf of Guinea.[41]

Standing NATO Maritime Group 2

The Royal Navy routinely provides a single warship to the Standing NATO Maritime Group 2 (part of the NATO Response Force). The standard area of operations for the Standing NRF Maritime Group 2 is the Mediterranean Sea.[12] In 2017, HMS Duncan deployed as flagship of the group, HM Ships Diamond and Ocean also took on the role prior to Duncan resuming her duties in early 2018 till July 2018.[42] The latest ship to be assigned was HMS Kent in June 2021.

Special Purpose Task Group

In April 2016, IHS Jane's reported that the Royal Navy had formed a new marine task group, named the Special Purpose Task Group (SPTG), in December 2015. The task group is reportedly 150-strong and centred around Zulu Company of 45 Commando Royal Marines. It conducts counter-trafficking, counter-terrorism operations as well as providing support to United Kingdom Special Forces. The SPTG's first operational deployment was in January 2016 to the Mediterranean on board RFA Mounts Bay (L3008). Additional personnel from 29 Regiment Royal Artillery, 17 Port and Maritime Regiment of the Royal Logistic Corps, 24 Engineer Regiment, and 30 (Information Exploitation) Commando Royal Marines were attached to provide specialist capabilities and expertise.[43]

Operation Sea Guardian

Operation Sea Guardian

Ships transiting or operating in the Mediterranean will routinely be assigned in Associated Support to Operation Sea Guardian. With the forward basing of HMS Trent to Gibraltar, she has been assigned to OSG in direct support. In 2020 HMS Albion and RFA Lyme Bay have also operated in support of the operation.

Humanitarian Missions

The Royal Navy remains committed to providing humanitarian assistance in the Mediterranean. The most high profile of these missions in the area has been Operation Sophia.[44] This was the EU led mission to counter illegal people trafficking from Libya. The Royal Navy's contribution has been highly successful. During a 12 month attribution, HMS Enterprise provided the most days on task of any other unit and saved the most lives (9,100).

In 2020, HMS Enterprise was ordered to sail from Crete to use her hydrographic survey expertise to help to re-open the port of Beirut following the massive explosion which devastated the port and surrounding area.[45] She also delivered humanitarian aid.


Humanitarian Missions

Although the Royal Navy no-longer maintains a permanent naval presence in the Pacific Ocean, it is always committed to providing humanitarian aid where possible. When Typhoon Haiyan struck the Philippines in late 2013, the Royal Navy deployed HMS Daring and HMS Illustrious as part of the United Kingdom's humanitarian aid mission to the region (known as Operation Patwin).[46]


As of late 2014, warships deployed on the Atlantic Patrol Tasking South have routinely extended their operations into the South Pacific. HMS Lancaster departed the United Kingdom on 21 March 2015 for a 9-month deployment to the region.[47] HMS Lancaster relieved HMS Dragon which had been deployed since October 2014.[48] In April 2016, the Royal Navy successfully attained Observer membership of the Western Pacific Naval Symposium (WPNS).[49]

During the course of 2018 and 2019 four ships have been operating in the Pacific Ocean: HMS Sutherland, HMS Albion, HMS Argyll and HMS Montrose.

See also


  1. 1.0 1.1 "The Royal Navy Deployed Forward Operating Globally" (PDF). Royal Navy. Retrieved 21 May 2014.
  2. Antarctic Patrol,, Retrieved 1 June 2014
  3. "West Indies Guard Ship". Retrieved 5 September 2008.
  4. Atlantic Patrol Tasking North,, Retrieved 1 June 2014
  5. "Operation Ruman". (in English). Retrieved 1 June 2018.
  6. Tony Skinner, 'RN cuts back Standing Task commitments,' Jane's Defence Weekly, 20 July 2005, p.12
  7. Navy News. April 2018. Missing or empty |title= (help)
  8. Atlantic Patrol Tasking South,, Retrieved 1 June 2014
  11. Falkland Islands Patrol Task,, Retrieved 1 June 2014
  12. 12.0 12.1 Standing NATO Maritime Group 1 and 2,, Retrieved 2 June 2014
  13. Cold Weather Training,, Retrieved 2 February 2015
  14. "Faslane Patrol Boat Squadron". Retrieved 26 August 2017.
  15. Fishery Protection
  16. House of Commons Hansard Written Answers ( 27 January 2014
  17. Training,, Retrieved 2 June 2014
  18. Joint Warrior,, Retrieved 2 June 2014
  19. Ministry of Defence. "Freedom of Information response to Mr A J Howell" (PDF).
  20. "House of Commons Written Answers c121W". UK Parliament. 28 March 2011.
  21. CTF 150,, Retrieved 2 June 2014
  22. UK boosts help for tsunami victims,, 31 December 2004
  23. Search For MH370,, Retrieved 2 June 2014
  24. Spanish Ambassador Visits Operational Headquarters in the United Kingdom,, 28 May 2014
  25. "Chain of command | Eunavfor". (in English). Retrieved 10 May 2018.
  26. Operation Kipion,, Retrieved 2 June 2014
  27. Operation Kipion Mine Countermeasures,, Retrieved 27 April 2014
  29. Continuous At Sea Deterrent,, Retrieved 2 June 2014
  30. International Partnerships,, Retrieved 2 June 2014
  31. Royal Navy ready for unforeseen global events,, 9 May 2011
  32. Royal Navy sails for annual ‘Cougar’ deployment,, 9 August 2013
  33. Royal Navy set for Cougar 13,, 8 August 2013
  34. Royal Navy sharpens claws for Exercise Omani Cougar,, 25 October 2013
  35. NATO Mine Countermeasures,, Retrieved 2 June 2014
  36. Navy News (PDF) (October 2015 ed.). Royal Navy. p. 14.
  37. Royal Navy Senior Appointments, 1865- (PDF). Royal Navy. Retrieved 5 November 2020.
  38. "UK Carrier Strike Group Assembles for the First Time". Royal Navy. 5 October 2020. Retrieved 5 November 2020.
  39. "Counting down to the UK Carrier Strike Group 2021 deployment". Save The Royal Navy. 7 July 2020. Retrieved 5 November 2020.
  40. Gibraltar Squadron,, Retrieved 2 June 2014
  43. "UK forms new marine task group". IHS Jane's. 14 April 2016.
  44. "Op Sophia".
  45. "HMS Enterprise to deploy to Beirut in UK support to Lebanon". (in English). Retrieved 3 September 2020.
  46. Operation Patwin,, Retrieved 2014
  47. HMS Lancaster deploys,, Retrieved March 2015
  48. HMS Dragon leaves Portsmouth on deployment,, Retrieved 2015
  49. Royal Navy joins partners in Asia-Pacific region,, 15 April 2016

External links