£50m triumph for Victory
Artist’s impression courtesy of Rolls-Royce
Super RAS rig takes shape
TOWERING above Torpoint any day now should be a 25-metre (82ft) mast which will help to usher in a revolution in the way the Navy sustains itself at sea in the long-run. The mast (tall enough to warrant navigational warning lights for passing aircraft...) is the key to the Heavy Replenishment At Sea (HRAS) complex, a £26m centre which will more than double the speed of the long-standing art of RASing... and be the envy of the world. For the past two decades a mock-up of part of a Type 22 frigate (now all out of service) and auxiliary a few metres away across a chasm has served the Navy and RFA well. What it cannot do, however, is meet the needs of the Navy of tomorrow. The Type 45s now debuting on operations are double the size of their aged predecessors, the next-generation carriers Queen Elizabeth and Prince of Wales are three times the size of HMS Illustrious and Ocean. Size matters. The hydrodynamic/physical effects of two large ships, one 65,000 tonnes, one 30,000+ steaming a parallel course at speed in rough weather, means that 55 metres (180ft) is deemed to be a safe distance for a RAS. A 55m gap between, say, a Type 23, and a Rover or Ruler is considered the outer limit of the distance between two ships RASing (the lower limit is about 30m or 100ft, the optimum is 36m – 118ft). At present ships resupplying transfer no more than two tonnes by wire
on a single load – equivalent to a pallet of around 20 rounds for a 4.5in main gun.
The aim of HRAS is to transfer fi ve tonnes at a time. Twenty-fi ve such loads in an hour. Continuously for fi ve hours. That’s one pallet every two minutes and 24 seconds, or 625 tonnes of stores in all. No Navy in the world possesses such an ability at present. Even with fully-honed teams on both RN and RFA ships, the best you could hope for presently would be 200-250 tonnes. This increased speed of transfer is key to operations. The less time it
takes to resupply, the more it can carry out its mission. In addition, a warship is possibly at its most vulnerable when replenishing – cutting the time to a minimum cuts the danger. Cuts the danger to the ship overall, that is. RASing itself remains one of the most dangerous manoeuvres at sea. “If you were to tell health and safety you wanted to transfer food,
stores, ammunition, sailing two ships together in bad weather in busy shipping lanes, they’d probably have an aneurism,” says CPO Mark White.
Which is why something like the existing rig or HRAS are vital to him and shipmates at the RN Seamanship Training Unit. “RASing is our bread and butter, and this new training rig is awesome. A quantum leap. For our branch, these are good, no, exciting times. “Very often in the world of seamanship the only way to train is to do the thing for real. RASing is a dangerous manoeuvre – transferring ammunition and stores between two ships, steaming through busy waters – so anything like this facility which makes it as safe as possible has got to be good.”
Although the mock-up ships on the HRAS are not on hydraulics, a hi-tech computer-driven jigger winch can simulate the motion of the sea and its effect on the load being transferred – bringing added realism. “This will be the best replenishment at sea training facility in the world – as close to the real thing as possible,” explained Lee Gristwood, project leader for Rolls-Royce. Given the revolutionary nature of the HRAS system, it will undergo 18 months of assessment and trials by the Rolls-Royce team before the RN gets its hands on it in the spring 2014.
HMS Victory, the most famous historic warship in the world, is to be transferred to the National Museum of the Royal Navy with a £50 million endowment which will safeguard and preserve her
for generations to come. Nelson’s fl agship will pass to the custody of the HMS Victory Preservation Trust, a charitable trust set up with a £25 million donation from the Gosling Foundation, matched by an equal amount given by the Ministry of Defence. The initiative paves the way for HMS Victory to
receive further charitable donations. Victory, the only surviving example of an 18th-Century ship of the line, will continue as a commissioned warship with a Commanding Offi cer and a ship’s company, open to visitors and fl ying the White Ensign in her Portsmouth dry dock. She will remain the fl agship of the Second Sea
Lord and subsequently become the fl agship of the First Sea Lord. Vice Admiral Charles Montgomery, Second Sea Lord, said: “I am absolutely delighted with this initiative. It will signifi cantly enhance the way in which Victory can be preserved for the benefi t of the nation and future generations, while retaining her links with the Royal Navy. “She will be in the hands of an organisation which will look after her unique status and has all the professional experience that her continued and enhanced preservation requires. “On behalf of the Service, I am immensely grateful to Sir Donald Gosling and the Gosling Foundation for their generosity in making this possible.” He added: “The ship has been at the heart of the Royal Navy for centuries and is symbolic of the fi ghting ethos and values of the Service. These are as important and relevant in current times, for example in Afghanistan, Libya and the Gulf, as they were at the time of Trafalgar. Admiral Sir Jonathon Band, Chairman of the National Museum of the Royal Navy, said: “This is fantastic news. The National Museum of the Royal Navy is the Navy Board’s adviser on naval heritage and therefore we are the ideal charity to oversee the Trust that will be looking after this world-famous historic warship.
Admiral Band said: “We certainly never
underestimate the place HMS Victory occupies in the national consciousness. “The ship, the sail, the wood to repair her and her collection of historic artefacts will all be transferred to the museum. The ship will remain open to visitors as a charitable trust. “This will ensure people will engage with the story of our navy and understand its unique impact in shaping not only Britain but the modern world we know.”
Admiral Band added: “This transfer emphatically does not open the way for inappropriate commercialism of this ship. She will remain a warship fl ying the White Ensign and will behave as such. “We will remain true to her ethos as a unique
and irreplaceable cultural icon, and partnerships will be brokered in a safe and sensitive manner.” He added: “The MOD has passed its jewel in
the crown to the museum for safekeeping and we the museum will not fail in our duty to secure the long-term future of this ship, to oversee the most signifi cant conservation programme ever undertaken and to ensure that Victory will remain at the centre of the Royal Navy and the history of the nation for generations to come.” The maintenance of the ship was given a signifi cant boost last October when BAE Systems Surface Ships were awarded a £16 million contract to support HMS Victory. The contract involves the most extensive
restoration since the ship returned from the Battle of Trafalgar in 1805. The work will become the responsibility of the new Trust. A 100-gun fi rst-rate ship of the line, Victory was launched in Chatham in 1765. Her crowning place in history came 40 years later when she won fame as Vice Admiral Lord Nelson’s fl agship at the Battle of Trafalgar. This resounding triumph for the Royal Navy was instrumental in the defeat of Napoleon, leading to Britain’s control of the seas for over 100 years. With the demise of the Navy’s wooden walls, she languished as a training vessel anchored in Portsmouth Harbour. In the 1920s her future was secured for the nation by the Society for Nautical Research when she was brought into dry dock in Portsmouth Naval Base. She was restored to the condition in which she would have fought under Nelson and opened to the public.
Picture: LA(Phot) Simmo Simpson
How the Navy shaped our Island story
AS A nation, do we understand the role the Royal Navy has played in our history? To readers of Navy News, the
answer is probably ‘yes.’ But the brains behind a major conference to be held in Portsmouth this month believe many British people are astonishingly ignorant about the maritime history which has shaped our nation. Simon Williams and Matthew
Chorley, both military historians, are the organisers behind the two-day conference, The Navy is the Nation, which takes place at the Royal Naval Museum on April 18-19. It has two purposes – to
celebrate Britain’s historical relationship with the sea and to try to address the problem of ‘sea-blindness.’ Simon Williams explained: “It seemed appropriate to hold the conference in a year that marks the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee, the 30th Anniversary of the Falklands War and the 200th Anniversary of the War of 1812 – but which has no traditional fleet review.” He added: “Our other motive
is that maritime and naval history is shamefully lacking in the national curriculum both at school and university. “The Education Secretary and notable historians bemoan the patchwork nature (one week the Tudors, the next, the Nazis) of history teaching in schools. “There is no better way
to give children a sense of national identity and a greater understanding of why Britain is as it is, than to study Britain’s historical relationship with the sea.”
The conference is to be held
at the Royal Naval Museum, with an opening speech by the First Sea Lord, Admiral Sir Mark Stanhope. The two days will bring together many leading academics in the maritime field, including Profs Andrew Lambert and Eric Grove, and the author Captain Richard Woodman, an expert on the Merchant Navy and maritime trade.
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A bridge not too far
THE Princess Royal joined schoolchildren aboard HMS Cattistock in Poole Harbour as the minehunter helped the Dorset town celebrate the opening of a £37m bridge.
As it was road resurfacing work meant the royal guest was the sole person to drive across the Twin Sails bridge – but that did not prevent ceremonies marking its completion taking place.
Princess Anne boarded the Hunt-class minehunter at Town Quay, joining
dignitaries for the unveiling of a plaque to commemorate the event. The Portsmouth-based minehunter’s
weekend in Dorset opened with a two-hour-long event accompanied by music from, inter alia, the Band of HM Royal Marines Collingwood. Tickets for the event sold out – and a large crowd lined the quay to witness proceedings. Cattistock’s Commanding Offi cer Lt Cdr Andy
10 APRIL 2012:
Ingham and his ship’s company hosted a formal lunch for invited guests – the ship’s affi liated namesake village is just outside Dorchester – before inviting local students and cadets on board. The highlight of the minehunter’s visit was opening the gangway to the general public for two days, allowing locals to learn about the work of the ship, her 40-plus sailors and career opportunities in the RN. Hundreds of members of the public took advantage of the open invitation.
ceremony, while the public turned out in force in glorious late winter sunshine to watch proceedings from the quayside. It was the second time the ship had visited Poole in ten months.
The penultimate day of the visit to Poole saw the Princess Royal and her host, Naval Regional Commander for West England, Cdre Jamie Miller, embark on Cattistock for the bridge
Among those chairing the sessions will be Admiral Sir Jonathon Band and Vice Admiral Sir Jeremy Blackham. Simon Williams said: “Studying
how Britain has used the sea explains why a small nation was able to control a global Commonwealth. “It explains why the United
States exists; why there is never enough room to ‘swing a cat’; why the British Monarch is also head of state of far-off and remote islands; why something is ‘fi rst rate’ and why we get ‘three sheets to the wind’ on a Friday night.”
He added: “The Royal Navy has for centuries provided this nation with the security she takes for granted. “It has defi ned our struggles in countless wars; secured resources to ensure we survive as we always have done, and in ensuring this security, has never been on the losing side in some 500 years.” There is still a handful of tickets remaining for the two-day conference at a cost of £70 – contact Simon on williams2424@ googlemail.com
For those unable to attend, Simon and Matthew hope to publish a book of all the debates and conclusions in due course.
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