NAVY NEWS, JUNE 2008 5
RRevenge of the evenge of the
bewitched by on Burmese
PRACTICE makes perfect –
FRIGATE HMS Westminster
especially when it’s a manoeuvre
broke away from the rest of the
you don’t normally perform.
Orion 08 task force to possibly
The RNLI and Falmouth
bbig bad wolfig bad wolf offer aid to the Burmese.
Coastguard are used to working
The Department for
with helicopters from RNAS
YOU wait a couple of years to see a Seawolf
asked for the RN’s assistance
Just not with Merlins. launch...
in the wake of Cyclone Nargis.
But with 824 Naval Air ... and then three come along in the space of as many months.
The storm wreaked havoc
Squadron due to perform at After Her Majesty’s Ships Westminster and Somerset had launched
in the former British colony,
Southend Air Show last month, their aircraft interceptor missiles, so too did HMS Lancaster as she
causing at least 43,000 deaths
they needed to hone their boat geared up for an impending deployment.
– and possibly killing as many
transfer skills – one of the Now we could show you a picture of the firing...
as 100,000 Burmese.
evolutions that would be watched ... but as we’ve had a few of those recently, we thought we’d
Hundreds of thousands more
were deprived of shelter and
by thousands of people off the show this rather steely picture of the Red Rose frigate leaving
the most basic commodities
Essex coast. Faslane, because one Seawolf launch from a Type 23 is pretty
The Sea Kings of 771 NAS, much the same as the next.
Although the world
Culdrose’s Search and Rescue But that doesn’t make it any less impressive – or for that
immediately offered assistance
unit, regularly work with the
matter challenging for the weapon engineering department
to Rangoon, the response
Falmouth RIBs – boat transfers
and operations room team; the former had to prepare
of the Burmese military
in challenging conditions are the
Seawolf, the radars which are its eyes and the computers
government was lukewarm
staple diet of the SAR team.
which serve as its brain, and the latter had to identify and
to say the least: it welcomed
This was the fi rst time that the
track their prey, before locking on and eventually flicking
some international aid, but not
RIBs had worked with a Merlin,
the firing switch.
the aid workers who would
The prey came in the shape of drones trailed from a
They experienced fi rst-
spotter plane. There’s not a lot of the former left after
Westminster’s 198 sailors
hand the dramatic effect of
the missile impacted with it, scattering fragments over
received disaster relief training
the helicopter’s much stronger
the Channel in a dramatic dénoument.
at FOST before embarking on
So the weapon works. What of the 180 or so men
the Orion 08 deployment.
Several runs were carried out
and women aboard Lancaster who are responsible
The frigate has most recently
employing weighted bags initially
for it – and much more besides?
been operating in the Bay of
before the Merlin men began
Well, the successful Seawolf launches were the
Bengal on an Anglo-French-
transferring people from ship to
curtain-raiser to two months under the Flag Officer
Indian exercise (see pages 8
helicopter and back again.
Sea Training in Devonport – a test which comes
and 9 for more details).
“This was an excellent
just days after outgoing CO Cdr Richard Moss
The British Government has
opportunity to get some high-
handed the reins of Lancaster to Cdr Rory Bryan
offered the services of the
quality training before doing
(indeed, the Seawolf launches came on just his
Portsmouth-based Type 23
the same evolutions in front of
second day in command).
frigate as a possible command
the crowds in my home town
The Portsmouth-based ship
platform for relief operations.
of Southend,” said PO ‘Mac’
prepared herself for FOST with a
Besides her Merlin
MacMeikan, who organised the
string of trials and exercises through
helicopter, she also carries two
the spring, including spells in the
sea boats, a ship’s doctor and
The exercise allowed the
Irish Sea, and the waters around
medical assistant, plus medical
RNLI crews to get used to the
the Clyde and Vigo in Spain.
differences of operating with the
Once she comes through FOST,
Westminster was steaming
Merlin, and allowing the aircrew
she’ll be off to the Baltic for a multi-
in international waters off
to gain valuable training operating
national war game.
the Burmese coast awaiting
to such a challenging (and small)
Picture: PO(Phot) Mez Merrill, FRPU Clyde
developments as Navy News
vessel under way. went to press.
The nexus of sisters-in-war
MUCH as HMS Albion has one of the
smörgåsbord of Allied forces.
fi nest command suites afl oat, you can’t
More than 30 Allied units – aircraft, warships,
direct your war from there forever.
submarines, ground troops – gathered off
western Scotland, drawn from 27 nations
Eventually, you’ll have to move ashore, as
including Germany, France, Turkey, Denmark,
100 planners discovered during an exercise off
the Netherlands, Belgium, Spain, Portugal,
Poland and the USA.
HMS Albion (furthest from the camera, below, in
The land element of Joint Warrior has typically
LA(Phot) Dan Hooper’s image) has just completed
been fairly notional, but this time real soldiers
exercise Aquatic Nexus – an exercise that tested
were put ashore. Those real soldiers were 3rd
the command and control structure whilst afl oat
Battalion the Rifl es, joining Bulwark – escorted
and the logistics of moving a large HQ ashore.
by frigate HMS Portland – for the amphibious
It began with the staff spending fi ve days
stage of the war game.
aboard the amphibious assault ship to test their
It was Bulwark’s mission to safely put the
ability to plan a major landing operation – in this
soldiers ashore so they could evacuate civilians
case carrying out UN resolutions to stop one
as chaos raged around them – an operation
fi ctitious African nation invading her neighbour.
Britain’s armed forces have become well versed
Albion has a sprawling operations room which
in through the years, from Aden to the Lebanon.
serves the needs both of the ship herself and,
And so it was that early one spring morning
more importantly, her embarked forces (usually
3 Rifl es began to trudge ashore from Bulwark’s
elements of 3 Commando Brigade and the
landing craft on to a remote Scottish beach. They
Commander UK Amphibious Forces).
then marched 20km (12½ miles) down roads and
With the landing successfully planned, the
across fi elds (with the landowner’s permission,
staff then shifted from ship to shore – with the
naturally) to set up a forward base camp and
aim of ensuring that leadership ashore was every
begin the evacuation.
bit as comprehensive as it was aboard Albion…
Peace invariably, though not inevitably, follows
and that the (imaginary) landing force remained
war. With her part in Joint Warrior done, Bulwark
under fi rm control throughout.
headed across the Irish Sea for her inaugural
HMS Raleigh was chosen to host the invaders.
visit to Belfast – a year after her sister fi rst called
One late April morning the Torpoint training
on the Northern Ireland city.
establishment was buzzing with unusual activity
Over four days, the ship’s company hosted a
as landing craft and helicopters ferried the staff
number of local schools, Sea Cadets from units 6 Y ^ Q ^ S Y Q \ I U Q b "