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UK Special Forces Operations: England

Britain’s Special Forces have been deployed operationally in at least 19 countries in the past decade, new analysis reveals, raising questions over the degree of transparency and democratic consent these shadowy units operate under. This section outlines the extent of UKSF’s operations in England.

2011

February: SRR tracking members of Oglaigh na hEireann (ONH), a faction of the Real IRA in key sites for the 2012 Olympics. (Telegraph)

April 29: SAS snipers assist CO19 marksmen on rooftops, SBS deployed on the Thames and SRR undercover in crowds for the Royal Wedding. (Multiple sources)

2012

July, Aug:  Express report that a 40-strong contingent of female SRR operatives, dubbed ‘the Amazons’, will be deployed on Olympic security detail. The paper reports that the SRR have been training for this assignment for 2 years.

2013

April: SAS, SBS and SRR (undercover) at Thatcher’s funeral (Sun)

2015

Nov: SRR on the streets of London after Paris terror attacks, apparently in undercover surveillance roles (Express).

2017

May – SAS in police uniforms spotted in Manchester following the Manchester Arena bombing, May 2017. While some of the men in the footage are wearing ‘Police’ patches, they are also carrying L119A2 carbines, a model not used by UK police forces.

Special Forces were deployed to Manchester ready to engage in the hunt for accomplices of Abedi (attacker) – Telegraph

June: British Special Forces were mobilised for terrorist attack on London Bridge. Photos show a Dauphin helicopter landing on London Bridge following a vehicle and knife attack there by terrorists on Saturday night. These photos indicate the presence of a 22nd Special Air Service (22 SAS) counter terrorism (CT) team, supported by 658 Squadron of the Army Air Corps (AAC). – Dubbed ‘Blue Thunder’

Looking for any terrorists still at large, the Lead Assault Team (aka Blue Thunder) carried out an explosive entry on Southwark Cathedral. “The explosion reportedly damaged parts of the building including the door to the sacristy.” (Mail)

2018

August: A video of a British Special Forces helicopter flying low in fog close to a road in Cumbria has emerged. The footage, taken via a dashcam inside a car travelling along Kirkstone Pass in the Lake District on the 2nd of August, shows the AS365N3 Dauphin 2 helicopter emerging from heavy fog at very low level.

Based on the aircraft type and paint scheme, it has been identified as belonging to 658 Squadron Army Air Corps (658 Sqn AAC), a specialist unit that supports the 22nd Special Air Service (22 SAS). (IndependentElite)

December, 11 – A counter terrorist operation involving armed Police and United Kingdom Special Forces (UKSF) troops has taken place in Newcastle. One man was arrested on suspicion of terrorism offences. Photos published online (some visible in the tweet embedded below) show a number of units, including what appears to be Police CTSFOs and UKSF (SAS/SBS) operators, pictured at the scene of the daylight swoop on an address in the Arthur’s Hill area of the city.

2018, December 22 –  Twenty-five Special Boat Service (SBS) operatives fast-roped from helicopters onto the ship in an operation lasting less than half an hour, after four stowaways escaped and armed themselves with metal bars. After 12 hours of circling in the Thames Estuary, PM May signed off on SF intervention. (Guardian)

2020

October 26 – Isle of Wight – On the night of Sunday the 26th of October 2020, British Special Forces boarded and took control of an oil tanker situated off the Isle Of Wight.

The Nave Andromeda is a Greek-owned crude oil tanker, built in 2011, which was sailing under a Liberian flag. The vessel is 228 meters long with a width of just over 32 meters. It had been travelling from Nigeria towards Southampton. On Sunday morning, the ship’s master asked for help after a group of seven previously discovered stowaways began making verbal threats when the crew tried to lock them up in preparation for handing them over to UK authorities. The twenty-two crew took refuge in the chips citadel, a secure area designed for such situations. (BBC)

2021

November 19: SAS troopers were brought in to help with raids in Liverpool after the taxi cab blast outside Liverpool Women’s Hospital. One was pictured. (Mirror)