Defence Secretary Philip Hammond has denied that sailing the Royal Navy’s largest ship up the River Thames was “over the top” in preparation for the Olympic Games.
HMS Ocean berthed at Greenwich in east London yesterday ahead of a major security exercise named Olympic Guardian.
The ship will act as a launch pad for eight Lynx helicopters and a base for Royal Marine snipers.
Mr Hammond, who was taken on board by a landing craft, said: “I don’t think it’s over the top.
“Every Olympic Games in recent times has had a significant military component to its security plan.”
Mr Hammond said Londoners and foreign visitors would be “reassured” by the military presence.
“These are assets here for their protection and their defence,” he said.
“There are no specific threats to the Games at the moment and we hope it stays that way, but if any threats do emerge I hope that the sight of these assets –this ship in particular – will reassure them that we will deal with any security threats in a determined and resilient way.”
General Sir Nick Parker, in charge of the military’s Olympics role, said the security exercise would prepare for the possibility of “extreme threats”.
Smaller crafts and patrol boats accompanied the warship.