Royal Navy task group to visit Malta
Royal Navy aficionados will be able to go on board aircraft carrier HMS Illustrious, which will be berthed at Pinto Wharf in Grand Harbour, as the ship visits Malta between November 19 and 23.
Illustrious, known affectionately by all aboard as Lusty, will be open to visitors on November 21 and 22 between 13.00h and 16.00h.
Illustrious, commanded by Captain Martin Connell Royal Navy, will be in Malta as part of the UK task response group commanded by Commodore Paddy McAlpine Royal Navy along with three other ships: HMS Bulwark, RFA Mounts Bay and MV Hartland Point.
A reception in honour of The Earl and Countess of Wessex hosted by Commodore McAlpine will be held on board HMS Illustrious on November 19.
An affiliation event between HMS Illustrious and the three cities – Bormla, Birgu and Isla – will also be held. HMS Illustrious is twinned with the three cities and an affiliate’s reunion event will be held on board on November 20. Veteran associations and groups for each of the cities have been invited and will be given special tours of the ship beforehand.
While in Grand Harbour, sailors and marines will be helping out at a variety of worthy causes. This will include a clean-up in collaboration with Nature Trust (Malta). Inter Task Group sports will be held with the assistance of local football, rugby and cricket teams in addition to activities at the Valetta Sailing Club.
The four ships are taking part in a three-month training deployment to the Mediterranean involving more than 3,000 sailors and marines.
The deployment, known as Cougar 12, sees Royal Navy warships, Royal Marines Commandos and naval airpower, which make up the Response Force Task Group (RFTG), train with French and Albanian maritime forces. Cougar 12 started its journey in the UK's South West at the beginning of October before the entire group met up in the Mediterranean later that month.
The RFTG is a rapid reaction force that deals with unexpected world events that require military intervention.
The Task Group has already overseen two key exercises: Corsican Lion, working hand-in-hand with the French. Following this it moved to the Adriatic to work with Albanian Forces both at sea and ashore.