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4 NAVY NEWS, JANUARY 2009
Carriers
hit by
crunch
Going interNaTTional
2009 is the year the
Steve Ashcroft. says Capt Phil Warwick, the RN For platform defence training
THE Navy will have to bear a nascent Iraqi Navy will
“This can be a real challenge, offi cer in charge of NaTT. you, er, use the two platforms.
signifi cant burden of the ‘credit
come into its own after
but when you see the Iraqis The Iraqi Navy is now 2,000 To practise boarding operations,
crunch’ hitting the UK.
getting into it, it makes it all men strong, almost half of them there are several fast assault
intensive training under
The nation’s financial
worthwhile.” marines – not in the green beret boats (or FABs) which use
troubles means three key naval
the RN banner.
And the Iraqis certainly feel sense, more naval infantry. either RFA Cardigan Bay or
programmes are being either
Iraqi sailors are gearing up
they are ‘getting into it’. “This is And ultimately, it’s the two an American counterpart, USS
delayed or shrunk.
for a 6,000-mile journey guiding
very exciting for us,” enthused battalions (cunningly, the 1st Carter Hall, as their base.
A feeling
Shipyards will slow down work
the fi rst of four new patrol ships
one coxswain (the men must and 2nd) of marines who will Mixing the training has
on the RN’s two future carriers,
from the Mediterranean to their
remain anonymous to protect bear the brunt of the security been, says Capt Shaw, “a
HMS Queen Elizabeth and
future home in the Gulf.
their lives). “We are a new burden in the northern Gulf real success so far”. He
of déjà vu
Prince of Wales – the backbone
It is a giant leap for a force
navy but we are gaining more ultimately. continues: “All the platoons
of the mid 21st-Century Navy
which has existed barely fi ve
experience every day.” 1st Battalion is deployed have embraced their new STOP me if you think that you’ve
– such that the vessels will enter
years, has rarely gone beyond
More experience and nd to the oil platforms, the to the challenge with determination heard this one before...
service at least one and possibly
home waters and never left the
new experiences. . other (2nd, if you werotheo e and enthusiasm.” Hunt-class warship. Seafox
two years later than currently
Gulf.
Like a fl ight in a wondering) defends wo That enthusiasm was mine disposal system. Trials.
planned.
But under the guidance of
Merlin. The Iraqi Umm Qasr port, U probably fuelled by the arrival PO(MW) Antony ‘Pinta’ Beer.
Defence secretary John Hutton
the RN/RM-led Naval Transition
Navy doesn’t have town and envirto ons. of six new boats (with another Yes, back in November you’ll
also told fellow MPs that he was
Team (or NaTT) comprising
a ‘Fleet Air Arm’, let And of those two 20 inbound), former US patrol recall that the senior rating and
putting on ice plans to replace
four-score British and American
alone the world’s battalions, 1st has b craft which can carry up to an his shipmates were lauded for
some of the RFA’s fleet tankers.
sailors and marines, the 31
number one sub- a dual ra ole: half the eight-strong boarding party testing the new mine disposal
And the squeeze on the MOD
crew of 701 (the rather unspired
hunting helicopter. battalion prba otects and hurtle through the Gulf at system on HMS Chiddingfold.
budget also means that fewer
name given to the first of the
But there’s a the KAAOT and the speeds of up to 45kts. And as part of the rotation
Future Lynx will be ordered.
quartet) are on the verge of
good chance that at at ABOTAB , the remainder You might say they’re even of Hunt-class ship’s companies
Sixty-two, not 70, of the latest
taking their navy to the next
they’ll come to see that that conducts the boarconducts d and fabber (groan – Ed) than the through the Portsmouth-based
version of the trusted naval and
level.
a helicopter is a fundamental dlsearch operations of tankers h existing boats… except that the fleet, team Cheery Chid are now
battlefield helicopter will be
In a few weeks, the 31
part of 21st-Century naval and other vessels using these replacements are Fast Small
on HMS Brocklesby.
bought by Whitehall for the Fleet
crew will decamp with their
operations. waters. Boats (or FSBs)…
She’s just emerged from a spell
Air Arm and Army Air Corps.
NaTTers
TM
to La Spezia for
And so three volunteers, Although those two roles New boats means new
of maintenance and overhaul.
There has been considerable
three months of training. Then
future crew of 701, were have the same aim – security of techniques, new kit, new things
Among additions, aside from
speculation about the Future
they sail the £14m 701 from
winched from the foc’s’le of the sprawling terminals – they to learn, so the Iraqi crews have
some fresh licks of paint, was
Lynx programme, but Mr Hutton
Italy to Umm Qasr – a 6,000-
their patrol boat into the Merlin are very different in execution. been put through an intensive
Seafox as the ship bade farewell
said the MOD would buy the
mile voyage.
of HMS Lancaster for a short The NaTT team want the training package so they can
to the old remote-controlled mine
helicopter – and it would enter
With that lengthy voyage in
fl ight around the northern Gulf men to be able to perform drive and maintain the new 27ft
disposal system.
service in 2014.
mind, the recent surge in visits
(ten minutes). We’ll assume both distinct duties (multi- craft.
“The new system’s really
The in-service dates of the
by Allied ships to Umm Qasr
they were winched back down skilling in business speak), so “The Iraqi Navy – and the
good – much easier to use and
replacement carriers are less
has led to an increasing number
again… last autumn Capt Andy Shaw Transition Team – have come
much more effective than the old
certain, however.
of Iraqi sailors going to sea with
“Serials such as this give RM introduced a new training a long way in the past six
‘yellow submarines’,” enthused
Originally due to join the Fleet
rather more established navies.
the Iraqis a real insight into regime to broaden the abilities months,” said Capt Warwick.
Pinta. “I can’t wait to get the
from 2012 under the Strategic
There’s not always a coalition
wider naval operations – it’s of the Iraqi marines. “Helping to generate a new
new lads trained in how to use
Defence Review, that changed
vessel available, but that
invaluable training which really In the end, the aim is to Navy is a true privilege and
Seafox.”
to 2014 and 2016 when the two
doesn’t necessarily matter. “ We
expanded their capabilities,” ensure that any individual Iraqi has provided an opportunity to
And nor, no doubt, can the
flat-tops were ordered last year.
sometimes have to improvise
explained Lt Lee Vessey. marine is equally adept at make a real difference.
ship’s company. For some of
With the jet due to operate
when it comes to practical work
Not surprisingly, such defending the platforms or the “For the fi rst time, the Iraqi
the maintenance period was not
from it – the Joint Strike Fighter
and demonstrations,” explained
exercises are “exactly the sort port or conducting board and personnel are outgrowing their
entirely pleasurable.
– unlikely to be available in time,
engineering instructor CPO
of training the Iraqis relish,” search operations. current equipment.”
The two engineering
Mr Hutton said the decision
departments aboard were heavily
had been taken to delay the
● Iraqi and NaTT personnel on patrol in one
involved in the overhaul.
“in-service date of the new
of the Iraqi Navy’s FABs
The weapons engineers
carriers by one or two years”.
Picture: Capt Phil Warwick, NaTT
tweaked and installed the
He continued: “Construction weaponry, stripping out and
is already under way – and will rebuilding the main magazine to
continue. install Seafox.
“The programme will still That was certainly more
provide stability for the core enjoyable than the task facing the
shipyard workforce, including marine engineers who, inter alia,
10,000 UK jobs.” cleaned all Brocklesby’s internal
The delays to and shrinkage of storage areas from the fuel to
major RN projects are the result sewage tanks.
of a seven-month review by the Sounds like fun...
MOD.
That review has also decided
it is time to look again at the
comprehensive project to replace Life begins
a sizeable proportion of the Royal
Fleet Auxiliary – the Military
Afloat Reach and Sustainability
over 30
(MARS) programme.
Mr Hutton said there was
THE gauntlet has been thrust
“scope for considering alternative
approaches to its procurement”.
down.
That, the minister said, would
Officially, Type 23 frigates can
probably mean delaying new fleet
make 28kts.
tankers.
HMS Sutherland has just
First Sea Lord Admiral Sir
achieved speeds “well in excess of
Jonathon Band said all the
30kts” during high-speed trials,
RN’s major projects had been
and challenges the rest of the
preserved under the MOD
Dukes to match it.
review and that at a time when
Some non-stick paint on the
the nation faced “exceptionally
hull and a ‘spoiler’ on her stern
difficult financial circumstances”
did the trick (plus a good deal of
preference had to be given to
effort by the marine engineering
front-line operations rather than
department).
future projects.
And the latter were rather
The MOD is spending £70m
chuffed by the outcome.
providing a dozen upgraded Mk9
“It made all the hard work
Lynx for Afghanistan.
through refit worthwhile –
seeing the engines working
Southampton
at their limits,” said deputy
marine engineer officer Lt Sarah
Wilkinson.
enjoys T-time
“I know the speed and weather
made life a bit of a rollercoaster
for the lads down below, but
they are really proud of how
NORMALLY home to liners,
well the ship performed in tough
Southampton was graced with
conditions.”
the rare presence of a nuclear
Sutherland has just emerged
submarine.
HMS Trafalgar spent five days
from a year-long refit in Rosyth
at the port’s Z Berth – a quay at
and is now in the hands of a
the East Docks specially allocated
‘brand new’ ship’s company,
for nuclear vessels – the first
headed by CO Cdr John Payne
submarine to visit since her sister
who describes his ship as “one
Tireless more than two years ago.
of the most modern and capable
And talking of visits... 18 were
fighting units in the world”.
squeezed in during the hunter-
His enthusiasm is matched by
killer’s stay with hundreds of
his 180 men and women. “It’s
Sea Cadets, Scouts and other
great to be part of a new team,
youngsters given the chance to
getting to know each other with
sample life on board a British
a clean slate,” said Sutherland’s
boat.
clubz LPT ‘Arnie’ Arnold.
College students hoping to
The ship is now on work-up
enter public service and civic
and training ahead of a drug-
dignitaries from Hampshire and
busting deployment to the
Southampton councils were also
Caribbean later in the year.
invited to tour the T-boat. marina Ship of the month, page 12
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