An unusual event attracted much attention on London’s River Thames on October 24.
Against a backdrop provided by the Royal Netherlands Navy’s Damen-built Holland-class OPV Zeeland, which was secured alongside the museum ship Belfast in Central London, British and Dutch marine commandos conducted a joint exercise. On board the Dutch warship to witness proceedings were the king and queen of the Netherlands, who were in the UK on a state visit.
The core element of the exercise was the underway boarding by the Dutch contingent of a small passenger craft to the accompaniment of much blank machine gun fire.
Dutch marines boarding the passenger vessel
Participating craft were MST-built fast raiding, interception and special forces craft (FRISC) of the Royal Netherlands Marine Corps, and an inshore fire support variant of the British Royal Marines’ offshore raiding craft (ORC), constructed by Holyhead Marine.
The 12-metre FRISC features twin Volvo Penta diesels, linked to stern drive, and has self-righting capability. The Holland-class each carry two such craft, while variants are also deployed from assault ships, and shore bases in Dutch overseas territories.
ORC inshore fire support craft. Photo: MoD
The 40-knot, 9.1 metre, ORC is powered by twin Steyr high speed diesels, coupled with Rolls Royce Kamewa waterjets.
The ORC is designed to be deployed from amphibious warfare vessels positioned up to 30 nautical miles offshore. The inshore fire report version of these fabricated aluminium-hulled craft features a midships control position, a twin machine gun mount forward, and two single mounts aft, as well as extensive armour plating.
British and Dutch Marines have long-established links, and the standing joint UK/Netherlands Amphibious Force is a regular participant in international operations and exercises.
Maritime security expert and columnist, Trevor Hollingsbee was a Lieutenant in the Royal Navy, Senior Superintendent with the Hong Kong Marine Police, Assistant Secretary for Security in the British Hong Kong Government Security Branch, and Intelligence Analyst in the UK Ministry of Defence. As an independent defence and security analyst he has had some 1,500 articles on maritime security, and geopolitical topics, published in a range of international journals and newspapers. He is an Associate Fellow of the Nautical Institute, and a past Vice-Chairman of the Institute’s Hong Kong branch.