LONDON, United Kingdom – A column of 175 sailors and marines led by the Band of the Royal Marines have marched into parliament to be thanked by MPs for their heavy involvement in global operations, including drug interdiction, counter piracy and humanitarian relief.
The sailors of the Royal Navy and Royal Marines were met by the Prime Minister David Cameron, The First Sea Lord George Zambellas, Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg, the Deputy Serjeant at Arms of the House of Commons, and James Gray MP, the founder of the all party parliamentary armed forces group for a reception. The Royal Marines, Britain’s seaborne infantry celebrated their 350th anniversary yesterday with a series of events around the country, and around the world where marines are presently deployed.
Although they are not the oldest unit in the British military, the Royal Marines have the distinction of having taken part in more battles than any other British unit, and are among the most decorated and celebrated military units in the world.
Many hundreds of people lined Whitehall and crowded around Parliament to see the procession, and hear the military marches. The band, which played traditional naval songs Heart of Oak and Life on an Ocean Wave as the column marched through the carriage gates of parliament consists of trained medics, drivers and logisticians who support the work of the British military and Royal Marines.
The Royal Navy and the Royal Marines have been busy in recent years, undertaking operations to maintain sea lines of communication to ensure the safety of merchant ships and global maritime trade, engaging in disaster relief, and interdicting illegal drugs at sea.
British frigate HMS Argyll was in the news yesterday after it captured 200kg of cocaine in the Caribbean, with a street value of £10 million. Royal Navy sailors and Royal Marines are embarked upon the Auxiliary ‘hospital’ ship RFA Argus which is presently sailing to ebola-stricken West Africa with a cargo of medical supplies.
The Royal Marines are now retraining for their traditional maritime role, having spent the past decade engaged in landlocked Afghanistan. The commitment of the British navy to the mission was so significant it was said at times there were more sailors, Fleet Air Arm pilots and marines in Afghanistan than soldiers.