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Royal Marines Visit the USS Whidbey Island

10 Jul 2016 | Cpl. Chris Garcia 22nd Marine Expeditionary Unit

United Kingdom Royal Marines from 42 Commando Royal Marine Unit, Juliet Company, boarded the amphibious dock landing ship USS Whidbey Island (LSD-41) and met with U.S. Marines and Sailors from the 22nd Marine Expeditionary Unit (MEU) July 7 – 10, 2016 in order to improve interoperability between U.S. and United Kingdom military forces.

British Royal Marines, much like U.S. Marines, take tremendous pride in their history. King Charles II established the Royal Marines on October 28, 1664 during the beginning of the Second Dutch War to serve as the Royal Navy’s amphibious infantry troops. In order to become a Royal Marine, recruits have to go through 32 weeks of physically and mentally demanding training in the inhospitable terrain of Dartmoor, Woodbury Common woodlands, England and Sennybridge, Wales.

During their visit aboard the USS Whidbey Island, the Royal Marines were able to integrate into some of the U.S. Marine Corps training such as the Marine Corps Martial Arts Program. They also observed the capabilities of the U.S. Marine Corps amphibious assault vehicles, shot the M4 carbine and M27 service rifles, received training on equipment from explosive ordinance disposal technicians and learned about the 120mm expeditionary fire support system mortar.

“We went into detail on the nomenclature and characteristics of our weapon system, allowing the Royal Marines the opportunity to get hands-on experience and a chance to learn,” said Sgt. David Cuevas, an artillery section chief with 2nd Platoon Mortars.

“I think doing things like this increases interoperability with each other,” said 1st Lt. Kyle Jackson, a rifle platoon commander with Battalion Landing Team, 1st Battalion, 6th Marines, who oversaw the training. “Getting to meet and understand the Royal Marines allows us to develop a better relationship with them.”

The U.S. and U.K. Marines have fought together in many conflicts from the Boxer Rebellion to Afghanistan and because of this teamwork they have been able to accomplish their many missions and goals throughout their respective histories. Both services have a common bond and share many of the same traditions.

“The Royal Marines and U.S. Marines were happy to meet and interact on both a professional and personal level.

“You have made us feel welcomed right from the very start,” said Royal Marine Lance Cpl. Oliver Cleland. “Anytime we are with our counterparts from the U.S., they are always taking time out of their day to make an effort for us.”

Before leaving, the U.K. Marines were able to enjoy an event hosted by U.S. Sailors and Marines called a steel beach. Steel beach is an event that allows the service members to play games, share a meal and socialize with each other and is a way to build camaraderie amongst the service members. The Royal Marines were able to play games and experience something they had never seen before with the U.S. Marines and Sailors.

“Everyone from 42 Commando Unit, Juliet Company, enjoyed the steel beach event today,” said Royal Marine Lance Cpl. Alex Johns. “It was a good atmosphere … and it was also a good way to get away from a normal working environment.”

Currently, the 22nd MEU, deployed with the Wasp Amphibious Ready Group, is conducting naval operations in the U.S. 6th Fleet area of operations in support of U.S. national security interests in Europe.