CDRE Martin Connell has assumed command of the Commander United Kingdom Task Group (COMUKTG) – taking over the reins from Cdre Jerry Kyd.
A former captain of HMS Illustrious, Cdre Connell will be responsible for commanding the Royal Navy’s Response Force Task Group – a high-readiness force of ships, submarines and Royal Marines.
The RFTG is designed to respond to rapidly unfolding world crises. It has been activated twice in recent years – in 2011 HMS Ocean sailed to assist in the international response to the Libya crisis and in 2013 HMS Illustrious took tonnes of aid to the Philippines following a devastating typhoon.
Cdre Connell said: “I am delighted to be taking Command of the Royal Navy’s very high readiness Response Force Group. I am particularly looking forward to embarking in HMS Ocean and HMS Bulwark later this year and, in particular, relish the prospect of operating alongside our NATO and EU partner navies.”
Each year the RFTG deploys on an annual series of exercises called Cougar where the Royal Navy works alongside partner nations for four months, testing and maintaining its warfighting skills.
As COMUKTG, Cdre Connell usually exercises command of the RFTG from afloat in the Fleet Flagship. He will command thousands of Royal Navy sailors, submariners, and airmen who will be part of the RFTG. From March the COMUKTG title will also be changed to Commander Amphibious Task Group – COMATG – demonstrating the core role provided by the RFTG.
Cdre Jerry Kyd has already been named as the future commanding officer of HMS Queen Elizabeth – the first of the Royal Navy’s two aircraft carriers. Due to join in the summer before the carrier begins trials in 2016 he will be responsible for ensuring the ship is ready for global carrier operations. Lightning II aircraft will join for sea trials from HMS Queen Elizabeth in 2018.