The ship was in Karachi for a short time to undertake an amphibious familiarisation for the Pakistan Marines with J Company, 42 Commando Royal Marines, and 4 Assault Squadron Royal Marines (ASRM), and to conduct talks with Pakistan Navy personnel recently returned from counter piracy operations in the Middle East.
Commodore Paddy McAlpine, Commander United Kingdom Task Group, and Captain Andrew Burns Royal Navy, Commanding Officer HMS Bulwark, took the opportunity to visit the Commander of the Pakistan Marines Commodore Waris.
While the Pakistan Marines were undertaking their amphibious familiarisation, counter-piracy talks were conducted on board HMS Bulwark. Issues under discussion included tactical techniques employed by boarding teams when searching vessels at sea, and the challenges faced by assigned forces during these important missions.
The opportunity to visit Karachi came at quite short notice and was driven by a programme change elsewhere. That’s what a forward deployed Task Group gives – maritime and political choice. In this instance, we were sent to Karachi to boost the bi-lateral Defence and Security relationship with Pakistan. We were overwhelmed by their generosity and the genuine warmth of their welcome. We were very well hosted and protected at a difficult time; a very worthwhile, but all too short, visit.
The British High Commission in Pakistan hosted a reception on board HMS Bulwark, for a variety of military and business leaders. Guests included Rear Admiral Khan Hashan Bin Siddique, Commander Pakistan Fleet, who as a Britannia Royal Naval College graduate reflected positively upon the rare opportunity to visit a British warship while in his own Fleet port.
British Defence & Military Advisor, Brigadier Paul Cartwright said:
We are pleased to welcome HMS Bulwark and its crew to Pakistan. Their presence here is a practical demonstration of the Royal Navy’s long and proud association with the Pakistan Navy and also re-enforces our Government’s commitment to strengthen further the bi-lateral relationship between our two countries. Our Naval assets are heavily committed across the globe and it is therefore a clear statement of the importance we place on UK/Pakistan relations that HMS Bulwark has visited Karachi.
HMS Bulwark has recently conducted maritime and amphibious exercises with the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, United Arab Emirates and Oman.
The Cougar 13 deployment will operate in the Mediterranean, Red Sea, the Gulf, and Horn of Africa. It involves exercising with partner nations, and will show the UK Armed Forces’ capacity to project an effective maritime component anywhere in the world as part of the Royal Navy’s Response Force Task Group, commanded by Commodore Paddy McAlpine OBE ADC Royal Navy.
The RFTG is the United Kingdom’s high readiness maritime force, comprising ships, submarines, aircraft and a landing force of Royal Marines, at short notice to act in response to any contingency tasking if required.