• Si Biggs

The Formation of 539 ASRM

Unit/ Formation: 539 ASRM

Location: Great Britain

Period/ Conflict: 1900's

Year: 1984

Date/s: 2nd April 1984

539 Raiding Squadron is 3 Commando Brigade Royal Marines Amphibious asset equipped with various types of raiding craft and vehicles, maned by over 100 Royal Marines and support personnel.

539 ASRM (Assault Squadron Royal Marines) was formed on 2 April 1984 and commissioned operational on 24 July 1984. This was in direct response to lessons learned during the Falklands Conflict in 1982 and lessons learned during winter training exercises in Norway by the Landing Craft Squadrons.

A section of MK 1 RRC (Rigid Raiding Craft) of 539 ASRM under the Bridge of Lorne supporting the RM Officer final training exercise (Authors own picture)

Originally equipped with 2 x LCU's (Landing Craft Utilities), 4 x LCVP's (Landing Craft Vehicle Personnel), RRC Mk1's (Rigid Raiding Craft) and IRC (Inflatable Raiding Craft), the unit developed over the years the unit was first homed at King William Yard next to Stonehouse Barracks.

The RRC MK 3 in both dazzle pattern and traditional camouflage (Authors own image)

The Unit moved to a purpose built base in Turnchapel Plymouth where it was further equipped with 4 Griffon Hovercraft and eventually lost it's LCU's.

In the convening years 539 ASRM deployed boat groups to support various out of area operations in 1997 a boat group deployed to the Congo, operating on the River Zaire as part of a contingency plan in case it became necessary to evacuate UK nationals from Kinshasa, Zaire.

The Author leading a dusk patrol of Raiding Troop 539 ASRM on the lakes of Maysan in 2005

The Squadron deployed on Op Telic in 2003 and was augmented with a boat group from HMS Ocean and also had US special operations craft under command, future deployments to Iraq included boat groups being deployed to patrol the waterways of the Shatt al Arab and lakes of the Maysan marshes including the operation mounted to stop infiltrations across the Iranian boarder to Al Amarah in 2005.

In 2006 the Rigid Raider Mk 3 was gradually replaced by the Offshore Raiding Craft (ORC) and its Gun Boat variant.

The Offshore Raiding Craft (ORC) and its Gun Boat variant pacing a Griffon 2400TD LCAC (Landing Craft Air Cushioned) in a Norwegian Fjord.

In July 2011 a landing craft from RFA Cardigan Bay landed two Vikings and Royal Marines of 539 ASRM in Somaliland. They penetrated several miles of insecure territory to meet up with an important clan chief and take him back to Cardigan Bay for a meeting with MI6 and Foreign Office officials.

In 2013 the squadron moved from Turnchapel to a new purpose built base in Plymouth Dockyard, RM Tamar the home of 1 Assault Group Royal Marines and 10 (Landing Craft) Training Squadron was formally opened by Prince Harry on 2nd August 2013 and also has berths for the amphibious ships Bulwark, Albion and Ocean before her decommission.

539 Assault Squadron is named after the famous 539 Assault Flotilla which landed on Gold Beach during the Invasion of Normandy.

In November 2019 1st Assault Group Royal Marines was renamed 47 Commando (Raiding Group) Royal Marines, 539 ASRM was renamed 539 Raiding Squadron.

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