SD Victoria entered Holyhead harbour in Anglesey, north Wales, on Sunday but today it was back cruising the Irish Sea. SD Victoria is operated by Hampshire-based Serco Marine Services as a training and support vessel for the Royal Navy and Royal Marines. It has long been linked to the Special Boat Service (SBS) and has been photographed carrying inflatable raiding craft (IRC) as well as SBS “stealth boats”.
The ship is currently the second largest ship in Serco’s 100-vessel fleet.
The company declined to explain what it was doing off Anglesey. “We can’t comment on operational details,” said a spokesperson.
However there is speculation it is involved with Exercise Chameleon, a bi-annual special force training operation. The Ministry of Defence has confirmed it is running 24-hour flying missions across much of the UK as part of Chameleon, including in the skies above Gwynedd, Powys and “Clwyd”.
The round-the-clock training exercise ends on September 16, NorthWalesLive reports. It is said to include the use of Hercules aircraft to drop items and supplies to ships.
Boat watchers have spotted SD Victoria off Anglesey’s north west coast on multiple occasions in recent weeks.
One person got a grandstand view of military-style activities as she walked along the coast. “We watched one of their ribs being winched on board (the SD Victoria),” she said. “Personnel all wore combats and stab vests.
“Little grandson was fascinated. There was a cruise ship just offshore and we thought they had something to do with that.”
The 83-metre SD Victoria was built in Romania as a platform for special forces operations. She is equipped with classrooms, briefing and operations rooms and a helicopter winching deck.
With a top speed of 16 knots, the vessel can accommodate 88 crew and stay at sea for 46 days.
She can carry rigid inflatable boats and has been seen with a pair of SBS stealth boats which are said to be capable of 60 knots.