Written by Petty Officer 1st Class Mark Treen, Naval Submarine Base Kings Bay Public Affairs Office.
It was all work, but a little play, when United Kingdom Royal Navy, Royal Marines and Ministry of Defense Police Force members trained with United States Coast Guard at Trident Training Facility Kings Bay.
For one week, four Royal Sailors, 14 Royal Marines and seven police force members trained with the Coast Guard on ballistic missile submarine force protection.
The United Kingdom and United States have a long and strong history of cooperation that goes beyond the formalities of being an ally. This is especially true with the mission of strategic deterrence.
Both countries have ballistic missile submarines and share the Trident system.
Both also have forces responsible for the safe passage of SSBNs from their home port’s protective gate to get to sea and back.
The United Kingdom’s SSBN base is Faslane, Scotland. Comparable bases in the United States are here and in Bangor, Wash.
In America, the role of force protection is shouldered by the Coast Guard Maritime Force Protection Unit, along with the Marine Corps Security Force Battalion.
For the United Kingdom, the duty is a joint job, based on the phases of interaction for force protection. The expectation from the U.K. government is that a civilian entity would interact with civilians during the normal escort of SSBN from its base. The Ministry of Defense Police have had that role since 1968.
Like the United States Coast Guard, the MDP officers have the ability to make arrests as law enforcement officials.
The Royal Marines’ 43rd Commando and Royal Navy members have been added since 2007 to provide further layers of protection. They are highly trained specialists, able to respond in kind to whatever scenario develops.
The American training was welcome by the U.K. members of this group. The Transit Protection System trainer in TTF Kings Bay is unique.
For the U.S., it allows full-scale, real-time simulation of MFPU Force Protection scenarios. For the U.K., TTF currently is the only place where all three entities can conduct simulation training together.
“It’s been the most valuable training I’ve seen in my time at 43 Commando,” Royal Marine Capt. Craig Burkin said.
Both parties said the training was extremely useful.
“My vision is to develop an enduring relationship with the United States Coast Guard,” MDP Superintendent Dennis Jackson said. “We would like to duplicate what happened here this week.”
That aside, as Burkin put it, “The lads have loved it. It’s amazing. You can get anything here, especially food portions. We love this culture.”
The highlight of the trip seemed to be the mid-week dinner in Woodbine.
That, plus the dodge ball game on Friday. The game was a chance to build unity between the various groups, while bringing out the camaraderie of competition. Players even switched teams. It was all taken in good humor, with the players from the U.K. wearing red shirts, while the U.S. military wore blue.
It’s hard to say who won, because at the end of the game there were too many smiles and handshakes. It was just as if there was only one team.