British Army troops and vehicles depart from Southampton for largest NATO exercise since Cold War

Military vehicles Credit: PA Wire/PA Images

British Army troops and vehicles are en route to Poland to take part in the largest NATO exercise since the Cold War.

Armoured vehicles belonging to 7 Light Mechanised Brigade, also known as “The Desert Rats”, alongside Land Rovers, engineers’ tractors and support vehicles were loaded into a 23,000-tonne cargo vessel, Anvil Point, near Southampton on Tuesday.

Some 600 vehicles will sail from the UK, and 1,500 service personnel will fly out to join the Nato exercise called Steadfast Defender, in a demonstration of the alliance’s unity and capability.

The departure comes as HMS Prince of Wales, which is leading the military maritime mission, set sail for near Norway on Monday.

The British warship will be at the centre of NATO exercises involving more than 20,000 UK military personnel across Scandinavia and northern Europe.

Major Simon Robertson of 17 Port and Maritime Regiment said: “It’s very much down to us to ensure that we get the vehicles where they need to be and the people in order (so) they can move on to conduct the exercise.

“It’s a busy one, it’s got a number of moving parts and it’s over a four, five month period for us, but actually for the regiment itself we do this day in day out.

“Yes it’s got a bit more focus and attention on it but it’s something we do on a regular basis, so for us it’s very much business as usual.”

MV Anvil Point as vehicles and equipment are loaded onboard at the Sea Mounting Centre in Marchwood near Southampton Credit: PA

Commodore James Blackmore, commander of the UK Carrier Strike Group leading the HMS Prince of Wales, said on Monday: “The UK has an unwavering commitment to NATO and collective deterrence and defence of the Euro-Atlantic region.

“There is no better demonstration of that than HMS Prince of Wales being at the heart of the upcoming Nato maritime exercises, the largest in over 40 years.”

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