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36 NAVY NEWS, APRIL 2010

‘Progress still needed’ over Forces complaints

THE ARMED Forces are making progress in the handling of complaints – but the system is still dogged by delays, according to the woman charged with monitoring the process. In her 2009 annual

report, Service Complaints Commissioner Dr Susan Atkins said that although the Services have made progress against the objectives set out in her first report in 2008, the complaints system is “not yet operating efficiently, effectively or fairly.” As such, streamlining the process has been earmarked as one of the key areas for improvement for 2010. Dr Atkins said: “Over the last

Pressure rises as medical unit opens

NAVY divers have a new treatment centre should they suffer ‘the bends’ on operations

or exercises in the Channel.

The purpose-built Hyperbaric Medicine Unit at St Richard’s Hospital in Chichester replaces the previous centre at Haslar Hospital in Gosport. With Haslar now closed, a new treatment centre had to be built – the nearest other specialist hyperbaric units are in Poole or London.

year, news broadcasts have made us all aware of the challenges faced by those who serve in the Armed Forces and the demands placed on them.

only right that these are sorted out quickly and properly. “I have been appointed to ensure that the Service complaints system operates efficiently, effectively and fairly so that personnel feel confident that they will be treated properly in their Service life. “The development of such a system plays an important role in ensuring the operational effectiveness of the Armed Forces.

“Where problems arise it is

The MOD and defence research firm Qinetiq plumped for St Richard’s – chosen ahead of Queen Alexandra Hospital in Portsmouth because it offered best value for money – where the new facility was formally opened by the Deputy Commander-in- Chief Fleet, Vice Admiral Richard Ibbotson.

The admiral knows the value of the unit’s centrepiece,

the

recompression chamber – he had reason to use one in Gibraltar as a junior diving officer some three decades ago. “If it wasn’t for these chambers,

I wouldn’t be here today,” he told guests at the opening.

“This is not just an insurance

this year, with a big shift in awareness of the role of the Service complaints system. “All three Services have made

serious efforts to reduce their backlog of serious complaints and there is evidence that Service personnel are becoming more confident in speaking out against bullying, harassment and other forms of improper treatment.” However, with the majority of complaints she referred to the Services in 2008 still unresolved more than a year later, the commissioner warned: “Cases that drag on for months or even years can have a significantly harmful effect on the health and welfare of all those involved. “Despite improvements I cannot give an assurance this year that the Service complaints system is yet working efficiently, effectively or fairly.” The full report can be found at

http://armedforcescomplaints. independent.gov.uk/index.htm

“There has been real progress

policy which might never be used. The reality is it’s already been used to check whether potential divers can cope with pressure. “For us, this new unit is a ‘win-

win’. It’s very sensibly located amid acute care facilities; if a diver suffers other injuries as well, he’s in the right location.” In layman’s terms, the chamber increases pressure, reducing the size of the air bubbles in the body of a diver suffering from decompression sickness,

better

known as ‘the bends’. The chamber,

which can recreate pressures up to a depth

l Vice Admiral Richard Ibbotson in the chamber with members of the St Richard’s Hospital Hyperbaric Medicine Unit in Chichester

of 85 metres (278ft) and has space to treat up to five divers, was transferred from Haslar to St Richard’s by low-loader, then craned into its new home. Although it’s owned by Qinetiq and intended for use by Service divers most people benefiting from its specialist treatment are civilians; around 15 sports divers are rescued by the Coastguard in the region every year.

In the first 14 years of its life at

Haslar, 541 military/civilian divers were treated inside the chamber. “Service diving is very safe. We do not have many cases of military divers requiring decompression,” explained Surg Cdr Ravi Ramaswami, the RN’s Head of Diving and Hyperbaric Medicine. “We have a chamber on Horsea Island which can be used for really urgent cases and a duty diving

Replica ship survives Cape

Trace your naval ancestors

VISITORS to Portsmouth Navy Days this summer will get the chance to delve into their families’ naval roots. The Naval Historical Branch,

located close to HMS Victory within the naval base, is lining up a panel of experts to give advice on naval family history.

A specialist from the MOD’s medal office will also be on hand to answer questions on RN medals and awards. Jock Gardner, one of the

branch’s historians, said: “We will be able to point visitors in the right direction, advising on what historical documents they would

A REPLICA of an ancient sailing vessel has

dangerous stretch of water as she makes her way round Africa. The Phoenicia is a primitive

wooden vessel based on the design of a Phoenician ship of 600BC – and the project to sail her 17,000 miles around the continent was the brainchild of former Royal Navy officer Philip Beale. Now an entrepreneur, Philip is a director of Greenly’s business advisors,

sailors and adventurers from across the globe.

bringing together survived another

interests – but for now he is leader of the Phoenician Ship Expedition,

amongst his other

Rare artefacts go on display

The ship sailed from Syria in the summer of 2008 in a bid to demonstrate that Phoenicians, an ancient civilisations along the eastern shore of the Mediterranean, could have circumnavigated Africa 2,000 years before the Europeans managed the feat.

One of the early dangers was the passage along the shores of Somalia, where Philip was in constant contact with his erstwhile colleagues in the Navy in case of pirate attacks.

was rounding the notorious Cape of Good Hope, and the 15 international sailors on board breathed a collective sigh of relief as they endured gale-force winds, waves up to seven metres in height and a split mainsail before reaching

The most recent problem

THE Fleet Air Arm Museum at Yeovilton opens the doors to Cobham Hall on April 25 for the first reserve Collection Open Day of the year.

l The Phoenicia seen under sail at the start of the expedition

the safety of Cape Town. The Phoenicians were arguably ‘global’

the first

occupying territory which today comprises the Lebanon, Syria and Israel.

But the mariners travelled

far and wide, spreading their influence throughout the Mediterranean over the course of a millennium.

The 20-metre ship was built

in Arwad Island, an ancient Phoenician city state just off the Syrian coast, by Syrian shipwright Khalid Hammoud using traditional Phoenician construction methods and materials,

using evidence civilisation,

from relevant shipwrecks and archaeological finds of artefacts such as vases and coins, as well as advice from eminent scholars and shipwrights. She will have a multi-national crew of up to 16 people on any one leg of the expedition. The next stage of the voyage

was due to get under way as Navy News went to press, with St.Helena, the Azores, Gibraltar, Egypt, Lebanon and Syria

as

planned destinations. The expedition is approved by

the Royal Geographical Society, and full details (including sponsors) can be seen online

www.phoenicia.org.uk

Cobham Hall, a climate-

controlled storage building, houses more than 30 historic aircraft and around five miles of shelving, accommodating many of the museum’s two million records and 30,000 artefacts.

Among the items to be seen

are Westland Whirlwind and Wasp helicopters, a de Havilland Sea Vixen and a Supermarine 510, the latter being the first swept-wing jet to land on an aircraft carrier.. And talking of such things, the hall also houses the world’s oldest aircraft carrier – the 1918 Thorneycroft seaplane lighter T3, which was towed behind fast destroyers to allow aircraft to take off in World War 1.

The collection will be open for viewing between 10am and 4pm.

“But the Horsea chamber’s much smaller and it doesn’t have the medical facilities around it like you find here in Chichester.” Beyond treating divers,

Picture: LA(Phot) Keith Morgan

medical officer available 24 hours a day.

Hunting and shooting on HMS Belfast

THE team at HMS Belfast have put together a varied programme of events to draw visitors to the wartime cruiser,

permanently

berthed in the Pool of London just upstream of Tower Bridge. As a naval alternative to the traditional Easter egg hunt, from April 2-18 youngsters can follow a rhyming riddle trail around the ship to find ten escaped rats disguised as members of the ship’s crew.

Hunt the Rat is included in the standard admission price, and each completed entry form will be entered into a prize draw. Over May half-term, from May

31-June 6, daily demonstrations of life at sea in HMS Belfast will form part of Korean War Commemoration Week, which will include 4-in gun demonstrations and damage control exercises. And from July 12-17 veterans from the Korean War will be on board to talk to members of the public about their memories of the conflict and life on board Belfast in the early 1950s.

There will be another hunt in the summer, from August 1-31, when small furry stowaways will be lurking around the ship. An interactive exhibition on

shipbuilding through the ages, Launch!, will also be staged until the end of the year. For further details on these and other events, including admission prices and opening times, see

www.iwm.org.uk

Maps and plans

the

chamber will in time be used to treat people suffering from severe burns, carbon monoxide poisoning and anaemia among other illnesses and conditions.

THE Royal Navy’s senior operational commander has paid a visit to the UK Hydrographic Office (UKHO) to see the navigational services and charts which the organisation produces. Commander-in-Chief Fleet Admiral Sir Trevor Soar’s visit included an update briefing on the latest plans for UKHO’s maritime services and products – including cutting-edge digital navigation aids and electronic chart systems.

need to answer particular queries. “Also if people bring along ancestors’ service certificates we can help explain information contained within them.” The event runs for three days

starting on Friday July 30. Already confirmed among the

one of the largest ships in the Naval Service, aviation training and casualty receiving ship RFA Argus, is also on the roster. Visitors should also get to see a couple of Type 23 frigates and the Black Cats helicopter display team. For further

Navy Days, including ticket prices and how to book, see www.

navydaysuk.co.uk

while

main attractions are the two new Type 45 destroyers HM ships Daring and Dauntless,

information on

l John Lippiett with the remains of Hatch, the Mary Rose’s dog

Picture: Mary Rose Trust

Dog goes home after 465 years

A SEAFARING mongrel has returned home – 465 years after she last set a paw on dry land. The remains of a two-year-old

dog were found trapped in the sliding door of the carpenter’s cabin on the Mary Rose, which sank off Southsea in 1545. Now named Hatch after the circumstances in which she was found, her remains – a painstakingly-preserved and reconstructed skeleton – are now on display alongside artefacts from the ship in the Mary Rose Museum in Portsmouth Historic Dockyard.

Analysis of her bones suggest

the dog, possibly an ancestor of the Manchester terrier, spent most of her brief life aboard the ship, where she was possibly employed as a ratter – Tudor mariners did not use cats as they believed they brought bad luck.

John Lippiett, Chief Executive of the Mary Rose Trust – and Hatch’s guardian – said: “It is likely that the longest walks she took were along the quayside at Portsmouth, her home town. “Hatch is just one of 19,000 extraordinary Tudor treasures recovered with the wreck of the Mary Rose, but she has never been on display in Portsmouth simply because we have not had the room. “All that is set to change with the

building of a new permanent Mary Rose museum, bringing together the remains of the ship itself with the pick of her artefacts, displayed at last in their historical context.” The new museum is set to open in 2012, with the conservation of the ship’s hull due to be completed four years later. For more details see www.

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