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Exercise "Mainbrace"

Volume 505: debated on Wednesday 15 October 1952

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asked the Parliamentary Secretary to the Ministry of Defence if he will make a statement on exercise "Mainbrace."

I have been asked to reply. The aim of this exercise was to test the forces of the Supreme Allied Commander-in-Chief, Atlantic, in co-operation with the forces of the Supreme Allied Commander, Europe, in defence of the northern flank of the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation area, and particularly to exercise the ships and aircraft of the N.A.T.O. countries taking part, in tactical co-ordination over an extended period.The exercise, which was conducted by the Commander-in-Chief, North, Admiral Sir Patrick Brind, took place from 13th to 23rd September. Some 220 ships and a considerable number of aircraft took part, the United Kingdom contribution including a battleship, a cruiser, 4 aircraft carriers, 16 destroyers, numerous smaller craft and a considerable number of aircraft. In addition, an aircraft carrier and 2 cruisers from the Commonwealth navies took part.As will always be the case in naval operations, the weather, which was at times bad, affected certain phases of the exercise which was, nevertheless, most successful in thoroughly testing the organisation, communications and all else involved in N.A.T.O. operations.At the close of the exercise a conference, arranged by Admiral Brind, was held in H.M.S. "Eagle" at Oslo, attended by the King of Norway, the Crown Prince, members of the N.A.T.O. Council and the two Supreme Commanders, Admiral McCormick and General Ridgway. The Commander-in-Chief, Eastern Atlantic, and the Air Commander-in-Chief, Eastern Atlantic, Admiral Sir George Creasy and Air Chief Marshal Sir Alick Stevens, were also present, as were the N.A.T.O. and national commanders serving under them. This conference enabled the fullest exchange of views to take place between the senior officers taking part in the exercise. It is too early for the results to be fully assessed, but the lessons learnt will be studied with care and embodied in future plans, equipment and training.