43 Commando Fleet Protection Group Royal Marines ( 43 Cdo FP Gp RM )
Once known as 'Comacchio Group', then later 'Fleet Protection Group', this specially trained and equipped cadre of Royal Marines Commandos are responsible for the security of Britain's Nuclear Weapons. They are also on the front line in Britain's fight against piracy on the high seas.
43 Commando - Organisation
43 Commando Fleet Protection Group are based at HM Naval Base Clyde, Faslane, Scotland. When it was known as the Fleet Protection Group Royal Marines (FPGRM), it was under the command of the Commander Operations Fleet, Royal Navy. In April 2012, the unit was renamed to '43 Commando Fleet Protection Group Royal Marines' and placed under the command of 3 Commando Brigade, forming the largest component therein.
43 Cdo FP Gp RM are organised into several squadrons
- HQ headquarters squadron
- Boat Troop
- O rifle squadron
- R rifle squadron
Rifle squadrons each consist of an HQ element and 4 Troops. Each Troop is made up of 4 4-man patrols.
Note: Until it was moved in 2017, 43 Commando's ORBAT included S Squadron, which specialised in maritime interdiction operations. The Squadron has been permanently moved into Juliet Company, 42 Commando as part of 42 CDO's restructuring for its dedicated maritime role.
Joint Support Unit
Elements of 43 Commando provides physical security at Northwood Command Centre (NCC), the UK's defence Headquarters.
O and R Squadrons
O & R Squadrons protect Britain's nuclear deterrant i.e. the Trident ballistic missile submarines based at Faslane, the nuclear warhead storage facility at Royal Naval Arnaments Depot (RNAD) Coulport and the overland transport of nuclear weapons,
Between them, O & R Squadrons carry out static nuclear security tasks i.e. guarding facilities at Faslane and Coulport. They also carry out dynamic nuclear security tasks, a role that includes fielding Recapture Tactics Troops (RTT) to retake nuclear weapons that have fallen into hostile hands.
Another aspect of nuclear security concerns the transit of warheads. 43 Commando work with the Special Escort Group of the Ministry Of Defence Police when guarding road convoys carrying nuclear weapons.
43 Commando Video
More video: Introducing: S Squadron Of 43 Commando
43 Commando Weapons
FPG Marines have been spotted using the following weapons:
- L85A2 SA80A2 assault rifles
- L22A2 SA80A2K carbines
- L119A1/A2 Carbines
- L91A1 MP5a3 9mm sub machine guns
- L9A1 Browning High Power 9mm pistols
- L131A1 Glock 17 9mm Pistols
- L105A2 Sig Sauer P226R 9mm pistols
- HK G3KA4 7.62mm battle rifle
43 Commando Watercraft
FPGRM use a range of surface vessels including:
- Offshore Raiding Craft - used as patrol and escort boats
- Rigid Inflatable Boats - Arctic/Pacific 22/24/28s used for ship boarding and patrols
- Island Class Patrol Boats - used to patrol HMNB Clyde waters
43 Commando Clothing
Specialist clothing includes:
- Gecko Marine safety helmets
- life jackets
(view photo of FPGRM wearing the above)
43 Commando - background
Before the role was taken over fully by the SBS in 1987, 3 Cdo FP Gp RM's forerunners, Comacchio Group, were responsible for protecting the UK's maritime interests from terrorism. Even though MCT (Maritime Counter-Terrorism) is no longer their main role, their training in VBSS (Vessel Boarding, Search and Seizure) and other techniques means that FPG Marines are well suited to supporting large-scale SBS MCT operations. In such scenarios, FPG Marines will be able to act as a backup force, searching and securing areas of large vessels/installations whilst the SBS storm the primary objectives. It is most likely that is was the unit's skills in such support operations that led to it providing the bulk of Royal Marines manpower to the Special Forces Support Group (SFSG) when it was created a few years ago.