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NAVY NEWS, JULY 2009 25
● LCVPs and ORCs make a riverine raid at fi rst light
● The LCVP narrowly makes its way under the sluice gate
gh fishing skiffs that are moored along helicopter anti-submarine pinging her XO Lt Cdr Derek Rae admits:
the Bruneian rivers (or have to go man, to come on board Ocean for “Our core business is populating a
lly back the next day to extract them the first time and to operate with database for years to come.”
out the bottom of the river, dry Mk 4 Sea Kings, Chinooks, the Mk But he and his crew have played
has them out and restore them to their 7 Lynx, so we’ve had the range of host to the marines of the pre-
rs, owners). CHF and JHC aircraft from an area landing force, Royal Australian Navy
ng That the pilots of the Merlin I’ve never really had any experience personnel, and the shallow-water
he helicopters have had to keep a of before – it’s great. experts of Fleet Diving Unit 2.
les wary eye out for corrugated roofs “Fly Navy 100 year it’s brilliant He added: “These ships are
eir easily borne aloft by their powerful that all the Fleet Air Arm squadrons designed to go out and operate
ne downdraught. of all the colours have got together, on their own. So this is a good
The senior commando officer because we’ve had the grey opportunity to work with a task
ng added: “Every exercise has an helicopters with the Flights that are group.
nd element of artificiality to it. There’s on Somerset and earlier with Argyll, “One of the big issues is the work
he no real good answer to this, you work and we also had an 857 aircraft from we usually do is miles from land.
your way around it as best you can Culdrose, so we’ve had the whole This exercise has been essential in
to and you use your military experience range throughout. preventing skill fade.
ons to build in as much reality as you “The only ones we’ve missed “It’s brought the skill level back
on possibly can.” really have been the Search and up so if this happened for real we
The heat and the humidity Rescue Sea King Mk 5s, otherwise wouldn’t be feeling our way. If you
aid have impacted on both man and we have just about ticked the box for don’t practise these things you really
te, machinery, with ships’ engines and everything. So it’s been fascinating. are rusty when you get back.”
ure cooling taxed by the ambient water “I’ve operated with green very But such has been the pace and
nd- and air temperatures. briefly before over ten years ago, so range of activity on Taurus that rust
ha On the river, the landing craft it’s been fantastic to operate with is an unlikely prospect.
urs swelter in the bright sunshine, with them. “The Royal Navy is one of the
up makeshift canvas covers slung across “Similarly with green with their few navies of the world that operates
. to offer some shelter from the heat. extremely busy operational routine, globally on potentially a high level
her A luxury that isn’t available to for them to come back to their roots of operational intensity,” said Cdre
he the boatmen on the open ORCs, and operate at sea has been good Bennett.
a whose exposed crew and troops are for them.” “And we’ve been able to prove
ideally poised for full 360˚ defiant For the Merlins themselves the that we can do that with the sort of
hat gunfire but are hammered by the early months of Taurus had seen hardware we’ve brought out with
ck environment in which they work. them maintain their focus on their Taurus.
ou “I’m threaders, sarge,” is quietly primary role of anti-submarine “We’re proving it to ourselves,
Col muttered by one coxswain after warfare, up to Singapore; but we’re learning, and – regrettably –
hours patrolling in midday heat. the opportunity to show off their re-learning lessons sometimes, but
all But unstoppable the Royal versatility in other roles has been nevertheless it’s a hugely important
of Marines surge onwards and inwards relished as the deployment has activity to demonstrate to ourselves
ow. once their sluice-gate foe is defeated developed. and our partners that we can do that.
war into the jungle and towards the “To fly over the jungle offers “It’s not straightforward, but
enemy waiting beyond. a whole host of challenges – and what we’ve proved in Taurus is that
an Meanwhile it is the 847 Lynx creepy crawlies – so everyone’s really the Royal Navy is absolutely able to
and 820 Merlin that buzz down looking forward to it,” said Cdr do that because it has been a great
me the river’s course, moving troops, Phillips. success.”
ces watching over the ground battle, “I’ve been flying for 20 years Col Smith concluded: “The joint
we and at the ready for a casualty and I’ve flown in the vicinity of the Royal Navy-Royal Marines team is
he call-out, whether real or scenario- jungle only once in that time.” absolutely the spine of amphibious
are driven. He chuckled: “And I’m classic, warfare. Two groups of people
n’t The three AH7 Lynx and four 20 years of flying and I’ve proven from arguably rather different
ate HMA1 Merlin are the current that you can teach an old dog new backgrounds coming together to put
uld thread of a shifting air group that tricks.” a very complex operation together.
has been under the command of It’s no secret that Taurus is about “And it doesn’t happen by
aft Cdr Jason Phillips, CO of 820 NAS, teaching new tricks to old dogs, or accident, it happens because we get
to throughout the Taurus deployment. old tricks to new dogs. the right training time with the right
ow He said: “As a long-term grey On board survey ship HMS Echo, assets.”
● An 847 Lynx drops Delta Company into the jungle
● 539 ASRM Offshore Raiding Craft on river patrol
Picture: LA(Phot) AJ Mcleod
Pictures: LA(Phot) Bernie Henesy
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