Britain’s flagship HMS Albion has arrived in Oman ready to lead the naval element of the largest combined military exercise for UK Forces since 2002…

Over the coming weeks more than 4,000 British personnel will be tested in the punishing sands of the desert alongside their Omani comrades in temperatures nudging 40ºC. Assault ship HMS Albion spearheads the substantial Royal Navy involvement in Exercise Saif Sareea.

For Commodore James Parkin, Commander Amphibious Task Group, the exercise is a reminder – with many eyes fixed on HMS Queen Elizabeth and her F-35 Lightning jet trials in the USA – that Britain and the Royal Navy have “never left the amphibious game”.

He said: “HMS Albion represents the very best of the British Armed Forces – able to deploy globally, crammed to the gunwales with modern weapons and sensors, and capable of putting a potent landing force of commandos from sea onto land, at a time and place of our choosing, without having to ask anyone else’s permission.

“Albion has a ship’s company of 400, and 200 additional embarked staff and military forces, drawn from all corners of the UK and Commonwealth, from all backgrounds, ages, races, and religions. And with the enormous flight deck, and the cavernous well dock, full of Royal Marines fighting vehicles and landing craft, her sheer scale is as awe inspiring to our friends as she is terrifying to our enemies.”

The Plymouth-based warship is the hub of an Amphibious Task Group which will comprise destroyer HMS Dragon, minehunters HMS Blyth and Ledbury, plus their support/command ship RFA Cardigan Bay, amphibious support vessel RFA Lyme Bay and the military ferry MV Anvil Point.

The exercise is intended to reinforce the long-standing and close military relationship between Britain and Oman, taking the level of co-operation and ability to provide security and safeguard prosperity in a vital part of the world. It will also be the most demanding test yet of Britain’s new Joint Logistics Support Base at Duqm, a new port roughly half way between Oman’s capital Muscat and Salalah.