18 NAVY NEWS, JANUARY 2010
● The dummy deck through the ages... the fi rst four images show the angled deck, complete with Gannets, Sea Hawks, Sea Vixens, the prototype Harrier P1127, and former Red Arrows Gnats; the last image
shows the post-1988 layout of the deck
A hand-held control panel the domestic fi re training unit,
SO THEY fi ght fi res, they cut deck offi cers are expected to guide its badge and motto, nostris in
marina Continued from page 17
local college to learn about the
dictates the strength of fi re. A is unique. There are important
people out of wrecked aircraft (or safely down. manibus tuti – safe in our hands).
science of fi re).
press of another button and there differences between the two.
cars – naval airmen also practise Day or night, calm seas or foul, It began life at Fort Rowner
“Look at the faces of the
are “dancing angels” on the ceiling “On a ship, you know how
road accident rescues), they Apache or Merlin, the computer (later HMS Siskin) in Gosport
students when they see it for the
– a fl ash over. many people there are, you know
guide Harriers and helicopters system can do it all (and more). before heading west to Culdrose
fi rst time,” says Lt Cdr Dunkley.
It’s a rather surreal experience exactly what to fi nd entering a
around fl ight decks, surely As he or she would do in real in 1959.
“That shows the need for this type
to watch fl ames safely racing above compartment,” Jan explains.
there are no more strings to the life, the trainee FDO stands on Back then we had fl eet carriers
your head, hauntingly beautiful… “All that’s out the window in a
aircraft handler’s bow? the ‘deck’ and makes the relevant – with a dummy angled fl ight
…unlike the smoke which house: you don’t know the number
Well, actually… The branch signals to the aircraft and to their deck to match. A mish mash of
TRAINEES spend a good six to
training support technician Jan of occupants.
comprises the RN’s cadre of computer-generated handlers Sea Hawks, Gannets, Scimitars,
nine days at Predannack – but
Rendall pumps into the room with “You don’t know what to expect.
professional drivers – which (or for a Type 45 there’s a small Sea Vixens, Hunters, Jet Provosts,
Well, Children have a habit of hiding in
explains why the school is also windowed compartment with Phantoms, and Buccaneers
the inferno doesn’t end there.
the press of a different button.
there’s no fi re without smoke. cupboards and closets in the event
responsible for driver training. touch-screen controls – fl ight deck provided the training.
For back at Culdrose there’s a
Then there’s the ‘cage room’, a of fi re. It dates back to the days when
offi cers in the new destroyers are It was refi tted in the mid-80s to
two-storey ‘fi re house’ (it looks
room fi lled with, er, inter-linked “On a ship, you’re thinking aircraft handlers for all naval air
shielded from the elements). It’s take into account the demise of the
like a couple of portable cabins
cages (think: of a cross between about salvage – saving the kit, stations received instruction in
accompanied by authentic stereo traditional fl at-tops and the arrival
stacked on top of each other; it’s
a sort of cattery and climbing saving the compartment, saving driving fi re engines.
sound. of the Harrier carriers.
actually a state-of-the-art purpose-
frame). the ship. In a house, it’s about It’s a skill still taught, of course,
Watching it all is CPO Andy Another refi t is looming.
built fi re trainer).
There’s no fi re, no smoke in saving people, but also about but the number of airbases has
Lewis who ‘fl ies’ “We’ve done
Like Predannack trainers, it’s
here, only darkness. Handlers are protecting their possessions.” reduced drastically. Instead other
What makes a good
a lot of work
largely gas-powered, except that it
expected to negotiate this maze Donning PBI Gold suits – driving instruction has supplanted
with a video already looking
simulates fi ghting fi res in a house.
fully kitted-up to see how they identical to those worn by civilian the original training.
games pad, aircraft handler? at training
Now why do we train RN fi re-
cope with confi ned spaces. fi re-fi ghters – today are trainee Around 600 sailors and marines
reacting to the handlers for
fi ghters to tackle house fi res you personnel pass through the gestures made
And, as at the satellite airfi eld, aircraft handlers Wilson Tulakepa
might ask? Well, there are no full-
there’s a real fi re room with a real and Catherine Fraser. motor transport training section
by the trainee.
time fi re-fi ghters in Helston, just
fi re – courtesy of wooden pallets. “We thought we’d only be every year – medics, Commando
There are says Lt Cdr
In the gas rooms, the temperature fi ghting fi res in a ship,” says Logistic Regiment personnel,
If there’s a blaze in the offi ces
never gets above 265˚C. There’s Catherine. “You realise that bomb disposal teams, Commando
can do on a
physical – and
or accommodation at Culdrose – no such automatic cut-off when it fi ghting a fi re in a house really is Helicopter Force staff who drive simulator which bles can carry
entirely possible given the size of comes to burning wood. much more confi ned.” hazardous materials around, fork you wouldn’t mental – fi tness, up to two dozen
the establishment and number of The Senior Service has similar The ‘fi re house’, says Wilson lift truck operators, but not, oddly, want to replicate aircraft, their
inhabitants/employees – it’s the facilities at Havoc and Phoenix at “gives you a taste of the real thing the sailors who use the tractors on in real life.
on-site fi re crews who are expected Raleigh and Excellent respectively, – there’s only so much you can do carrier fl ight decks.
confi dence in your
as many – on a
to respond fi rst, before the civvies but they replicate fi ghting blazes on in a classroom. You also learn how
Before we get too sidetracked emergency fl ight deck three
take over when they arrive. a ship; what we have at Culdrose, good the kit is.”
by aircraft handlers, a statistic: low-visibility
own ability. times the size.
there are 1,300 students passing approach – a A mock-up
through the school each year. helicopter trying
– Lt Cdr Simon
Only one in every 13 is an aircraft to fi nd a fog-
fi t (just) on
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handler. bound ship. the existing
Around half the trainees are The fl ight deck crew move to the dummy deck site although the
fl ight deck crews of frigates and edge of the fl ight deck and listen R01 ‘superstructure’ which has
destroyers – men and women who for the drone of the helicopter. stood for decades (it serves as a
have other day jobs. When it closes to within two miles vantage point for instructors to
Debra Raymond Military Figures & Gifts
On top of that there are RFA of the ship, they begin tossing assess handlers’ performance)
sailors; rarely does an auxiliary fl ares into the ocean. would have to be pulled down
deploy these days without a fl ight. Crews do practise this for and replaced with something
RAF personnel and soldiers also real – to a degree. But there’s no resembling the twin islands of the
fog. And it’s expensive. Merlin = future carriers.
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with HMS Ocean last autumn). the human cost should something for aircraft, well there are enough
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The deck handlers have a go wrong. Harrier spares to keep them taxi-
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edge of the airfi eld. It is this element of the training himself. “Professional knowledge,
Two years of programming have offered by the school which led to airmanship, physical – and mental
gone into the simulator – a huge a name change in the mid-90s. – fi tness, leadership and confi dence
three-screen affair which simulates For nearly half a century before in your own ability.
every RN ship type with a fl ight that, it was the School of Aircraft “The biggest danger on a fl ight
deck, plus every helicopter fl ight Handling (as still refl ected in deck is complacency.”
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● Computer wizard in charge of Merlin... CPO Andy Lewis sets a helicopter down on the new Flight Deck
Offi cer’s simulator
0016-018_NN_Jan.indd 316-018_NN_Jan.indd 3 88/12/09 15:53:47/12/09 15:53:47
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