16 NAVY NEWS, OCTOBER 2011 We don’t do ‘grip and grins’
BUT in this case, we’ll make an exception...
Making MASF contributions for a year
ONE of the Navy’s unsung – but vital – units has marked its first birthday with a bit of cake and coffee. Well the Culdrose HQ did; the front-line men and women of the Maritime Aviation Support Force (MASF) were rather busy, committed across the globe on operations. MASF was set up initially to
provide aviation specialists for ships and land bases around the world requiring personnel to support flying operations – hence the unit’s title (and motto – helping to reach the heights). But its role has expanded to become a ‘one-stop shop’ for the entire Senior Service, providing additional bodies – chefs, stewards, stores accountants, ops room experts, engineers and medics – wherever the Fleet needs them. Right now that means (deep breath) home waters, the Mediterranean, the Indian and Atlantic Oceans, the Gulf, Caribbean (where there’s a team on Wave Ruler supporting the ship’s 815 Naval Air Squadron Lynx on a disaster relief/counter- drugs duties), the Falklands, off north-east Africa (counter-piracy duties) and off Libya (supporting NATO’s Unified Protector). In addition, MASF maintains
a permanent presence on HMS Clyde, the Falklands’ constant guardian, and RFAs Argus and Fort Victoria (the latter has just begun a sustained counter-piracy operation), while teams from Culdrose are always aboard Fort Vic, Wave-class tankers and Bay-class amphibious ships to maintain their Phalanx automated Gatling gun systems.
Darth Vader fan club, but a new complex in Portsmouth Naval Base to ensure sailors are fully prepared for the invidious threats of 21st Century warfare. Naval Base Commander Cdre Rob Thompson (on the left in LA(Phot) Jenny Lodge’s photograph, just in case you didn’t recognise him…) formally opened the test facility for respirators – the first of three such centres being built across the Fleet ahead of the roll-out of a new mask. The General Service
Respirator, which has been under development for the past seven years, is replacing the existing S10 mask and is an essential piece of lifesaving equipment carried by all personnel on ships.
This is not the inaugural of the Royal Navy’s
while the sailor wearing the respirator stands inside.
The mask is connected to a laptop and around eight minutes of tests are carried out to ensure the respirator works effectively. For each ship’s company the can
days and two weeks to complete, depending on the number of people going through the facility. The new respirator has a better
field of vision, and breathing and talking are much easier for the wearer than with the existing S10 mask.
The GSR will be introduced to the Fleet in 2014, but until that day the new facility will test the existing masks – and relieve ships of that burden. “Having this type of facility on the naval base ensures that each ship rigorously tests
It protects against a wide range of chemical, biological, radiological and nuclear threats, and also allows sailors to continue their day job while wearing it. All the respirators have to be
tested once a year to ensure there are no leaks and that the filters and mask still work effectively. To that end the new Advanced
Respirator Test Set building at Sheer Jetty in Portsmouth Naval Base features six cubicles which are designed to fill with smoke
respirators prior to deployment and avoids an unacceptably high burden on the ship’s staff,” said Lt Cdr Rob McClurg of the Chemical, Biological, Radiological and Nuclear Damage Control Team.
S10 and we are delighted to be bringing it into service.” Following
facility, ARTS centres will be opened at HMS Raleigh and Faslane next autumn.
New jetty takes shape
WORK has begun on an £18m new ammunition jetty in Portsmouth Harbour.
After more than 80 years’ service the existing structure, which extends into the northwest tip of the harbour from the sprawling ammunition storage complex in Bridgemary, Gosport, is no longer able to meet the demands of modern warships, in particular the Type 45 destroyers.
In its place, the 278ft (85m) long ‘Upper Harbour Ammunitioning Facility’ or UHAF will take shape over the next nine or ten months. The new jetty will be able to accommodate ships up to 10,000 tons displacement, features two hydraulic cranes and mooring pontoons, and can be used to load or offload munitions in winds up to Force Six (30mph/50kmh). Portsmouth Naval Base Commander Cdre Rob Thompson got the construction underway by pressing a button to start the ‘driving-in’ of the first main jetty piles. “This project has been planned for a long while so it is tremendous news that work has now started. It will be of great benefit to the naval base and the Navy as a whole – it will be used not only by the new Type 45s but also our Type 42 destroyers, Type 23 frigates and other surface vessels,” he said.
When the facility is completed in the middle of next year, the old jetty will be demolished.
the Portsmouth for the their take between two
“The new respirator is a replacement
‘Not one unhappy matelot to be found’
THE last time the people of Ledbury showed their appreciation of the men and women in the ship which carries the town’s name around the world it
to Herefordshire to parade through the historic market town, the gods were smiling on them. Around 1,500 people – that’s one in eight Ledburians – lined the streets to applaud the ship’s company who were exercising their right of freedom of the borough. The visit to the small town, between
Hereford and Gloucester, was the highlight of a six-day visit to the West Country by the Portsmouth-based minehunter.
River Leadon; she berthed 40 miles away in Bristol for the duration of the stay. She was joined for the last stretch of her passage to Bristol – a short hop from Avonmouth to Arnolfini in the heart of the city’s rejuvenated harbour district – by Ledbury’s Mayor Cllr Allen Conway. The Avon is not an especially navigable river;
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was ‘chucking it down’. But when sailors from HMS Ledbury returned
oldest operational vessel. Meanwhile in Ledbury… In addition to the
freedom parade (surprisingly, despite the ship’s longevity, only bestowed as recently as 2007), there was a clash on the football field between a select XI from the minehunter and Ledbury Town; the latter won, says S/Lt Millyard “by a score too great to print”, although the wounds of defeat were healed somewhat by a hog roast and drinks at the rugby club. As for the march past, it saw music provided by the South-west Sea Cadet Band and youngsters from TS Ross and Antelope accompanied the ship’s company through the streets as did local Army cadets and Royal British Legion veterans, with Lady Darnley, Herefordshire’s Lord Lieutenant taking the salute.
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it’s only passable for larger vessels in a relatively brief period straddling high tide. “At all other times, the river’s nothing more than a deep, muddy gorge with a small stream running to the sea,” explained navigator S/Lt Matt Millyard. Luckily he got all his calculations spot on and the ship safely arrived at her destination. Once alongside, there were more guests to host: 40 VIPs who were treated to tours of the vessel, given an insight into life aboard and what the ship’s company do day-to-day. For ordinary Ledbury folk, buses were laid on the next day so they could look around (the gangway was also opened for some 1,000 Bristolians to wander aboard for a tour too), and Sea Cadets from Ross and Monmouth, plus members of the Ledbury Hunt (for whom the warship is named) and Hereford Royal Naval Association were invited to look around the RN’s
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And as with the football clash, the parade was followed by generous local hospitality with plenty of food (lots of homemade pies from the RBL) and drinks laid on. Some sailors went back for third and fourth helpings and, we’re told, “there was not one unhappy matelot to be found”. The crew have been aboard the ship for the past eight months and are preparing the vessel for a deployment with a NATO minehunting force in January, so a few days with their affiliated town was a very welcome break from lots of training. “The strong links that have been forged over the ship’s 30 years of service have been a great source of support when we’re away from home on operations around the world,” said Commanding Officer Lt Cdr Tony Williams. “We’ve been blown away by the hospitality and generosity of the town and I look forward to coming back to Ledbury in the near future.” Back on board Ledbury, the sailors found their stay in Bristol extended as storms lashed the UK. “There are many things that the oldest operational warship in the Fleet may be able to do, but sailing into that sort of sea was probably not wise,” said S/Lt Millyard. Picture: LA(Phot) Nicky Wilson, RNAS Yeovilton
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