In the first week of May 2000, RUF soldiers took captive around 300 UN personnel, including one British officer. On Sunday 7th May 2000, the Ministry of Defence sent the 1st Battalion, The Parachute Regiment, to Sierra Leone, and they flew out of RAF Brize Norton, Oxfordshire, aboard three aircraft where they touched down in Senegal early on Monday morning. Later that day they seized control of Sierra Leone Airport and began evacuating the trapped Britons to safety.
Once the evacuation was completed, Paras continued to hold the airport and patrol Freetown, the country's capital, to allow UN supplies to be landed and flown in safely. British forces helped to bolster the UN presence and provide logistical support to the Government forces and loyal militias against the Revolutionary United Front (RUF) - rebel forces trying to overthrow the government. They were there to evacuate British nationals, EU and Commonwealth citizens in case Rebel forces managed to capture Freetown and were under the command of Brigadier David Richards.
In Addition to HMS Ocean, HMS Illustrious and HMS Argyll, the following ships were deployed: HMS Chatham, RFA Fort Austin and two RFA LSLs. There were 8,900 UN troops on the ground. This number rose to 11,000 in the following month. At that point the British will be leaving, at least that is the plan as stated by Robin Cook. The air groups of Ocean and Illustrious are as follows:
- 4 Commando Sea Kings
- 2 RM air squadron Lynx
- 2 RM air squadron Gazelles
- 2 RAF Chinooks
- 7 FAA Sea Harrier F/A.2s
- 6 RAF Harrier GR.7s
- 7 FAA Sea Kings
On Wednesday 17th May 2000, the Rebel leader Sanokoh was captured by Government forces and transported to a secure location by a British helicopter. Earlier in the day, rebel RUF fighters had tried to take on 29 Para and a contingent of Nigerian UN troops who were guarding Sierra Leone's airport, but were forced back after a 10 minute gunfight leaving four dead RUF fighters behind.
Operation Palliser ended on 15 June .