Captain James Parkin

Captain of HMS BULWARK

Guest blogger for FCDO Editorial

Part of FCDO Outreach

10th October 2016 London, UK

Leading the Joint Expeditionary Force – the UK’s Swiss army knife of land, sea and air

Pictured is HMS Ocean during Joint Expeditionary Force (Maritime) (JEF(M)) in the Mediterranean. September 28, 2016. The JEF(M) Task Group came together for a PHOTEX, with HMS Bulwark, HMS Ocean, RFA Mounts Bay and MV Eddystone all in formation. CHF Phot, PO Si Ethell, conducted the PHOTEX from a Merlin.


Britain is a leading member of NATO and has strong and enduring defence relationships with partners around the world. In this blog Captain James Parkin RN writes about the capabilities of the UK Joint Expeditionary Force (Maritime) and its role in developing defence and security cooperation:

Captain James Parkin

I command HMS BULWARK, 176 metres and 18000 tons of UK sovereign territory with some 600 men and women onboard – as well as four dogs. We are currently located in the Adriatic and demonstrating, right now, the UK’s ability to deploy highly effective and combat-capable maritime forces anywhere in the world.

HMS BULWARK is the bustling Flagship of the Joint Expeditionary Force (Maritime) that also includes helicopter carrier HMS OCEAN, the Royal Fleet Auxiliary Landing Ship Dock RFA MOUNTS BAY and Ministry of Defence Strategic Ro-Ro vessel, MV EDDYSTONE.

Together, all of these ships carry, deliver and support Royal Marines from Lead Commando Group and a formidable air group consisting of Chinook, Merlin and Apache attack helicopters.  BULWARK is loaded with Viking armoured all-terrain tracked vehicles, as well as numerous support vehicles, to complement the ship’s unique Landing Craft and other amphibious capabilities.  Elsewhere in the Task Group, over 750 Royal Marines, British Army soldiers, RAF airmen, and civilians and officers from a range of nations, as well as additional vehicles, aircraft, weapons, and specialist watercraft, are embarked of the four vessels to provide the Joint Expeditionary Force the maximum possible additional warfighting edge.

Overall, the JEF(M) consists of some 2200 souls and represents a versatile ‘Swiss Army Knife’ able to deal with a range of operations from helping a community in need, to evacuating civilians from a war torn location through to full combat operations.  This forward deployed maritime military capability allows the UK to react quickly and with a range of options when faced with an overseas crisis as well influence both our friends and those not so friendly.

JOINT EXPEDITIONARY FORCE (MARITIME) DEPLOYMENT The JEF(M)16 saw the deployment of an Amphibious Task Group in the Mediterranean Sea. The deployment exercised the TGs ability to operate at reach from the UK. JEF(M)s primary role is to provide a forward deployed contingent capability to Defence whilst supporting Her Majestys Government security and prosperity agenda in the Mediterranean, Middle East and North Africa regions. Pictured: A Royal Marine shows a Albanian Commando the workings of a General Purpose Machine Gun GPMG during Ex Joint Effort.

HMS BULWARK and the rest of the task group have just finished Exercise Albanian Lion, working with the Albanian armed forces and using some of their fantastic training facilities.  With Albania and the Adriatic now disappearing behind us, the force will soon head for the Middle East, conducting more exercises to ensure readiness for contingent operations and to provide opportunities to develop relationships with NATO allies and other partner nations – whilst we stand ready for whatever a deployment to a volatile and unpredictable area can present.

3 comments on “Leading the Joint Expeditionary Force – the UK’s Swiss army knife of land, sea and air

  1. the description of the fighting power is quite awesome, of course the important qustion is….. where can we find photos of the most gorgeous, wonderful and probably most popular members of your team??? I am of course refering to the four dogs

Comments are closed.