Royal Marines have undergone training in chemical warfare skills to prepare for a repeat of the Novichok attack on Salisbury.
Zulu Company from 45 Commando, based in Arbroath, Scotland, will be the first marines to respond to a chemical, biological, radiological or nuclear (CBRN) incident at home or abroad.
The commandos were given the training in response to the heightened threat following the nerve agent attack on former Russian spy Sergei Skripal, which left him and his daughter Yulia seriously ill.
Dawn Sturgess, 44, fell ill in nearby Amesbury months after the incident in Salisbury, and died in hospital in July after coming into contact with a perfume bottle believed to have been used in the attack on the Skripals and then discarded.
Her partner, Charlie Rowley, 45, was also exposed to the nerve agent but was treated and discharged.
The Skripals’ home in Salisbury is set to be dismantled as decontamination work continues.
The marines carried out their training at the Defence Chemical Biological Radiological Nuclear Centre at Westdown Camp on Salisbury Plain in Wiltshire.
This involved a week of classroom learning before a week of practical training in a simulated attack on Imber – a deserted village used for military training.
Sergeant Ben Fail said: “The recent attack on British soil highlighted the importance of this capability and it is more important than ever for us to be able to operate effectively in this environment should the need arise.”
The final assault included pyrotechnic and electronic battle simulators to make the experience as real as possible.
Lieutenant Oliver Crow, of Zulu Company, said: “The Royal Marines are high-readiness troops who need to be able to react to all threats at short notice anywhere in the world.
“This is a very important skill for us to maintain in view of the current threat.”
- Press Association