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Pictures: LA(Phot) Shaun Barlow, HMS Bulwark
cracker off
JUST one day after completing
her annual slip and repair
period university boat HMS
Tracker was back at sea – and
being a nuisance.
The Portsmouth-based
P2000 put her usual duties as
training craft for Oxford’s many
universities to one side to help
the larger fl eet fend off fast-
attack boats.
She headed out of harbour
and turned right to fi nd HMS
Albion and RFA Mounts Bay
is in a ’fi x
disgorging Royal Marine
commandos on to Browndown
Beach in Gosport as part of
Exercise South-West Sword –
WE KNOW the Navy’s grown
work-up for winter war games
smaller over the years but this
in Norway (see pages 23-25).
is ridiculous: a carrier on your
Tracker’s job was to play
an enemy Fast Inshore Attack
Yes, you can now have HMS
Craft, intent on attacking not
Illustrious in your front room
just the large amphibious
courtesy of those wizards with
vessels, but also the Royal
plastic at Airfi x.
Marine landing craft bobbing
They’ve recreated the Fleet
around Stokes Bay.
fl agship in miniature – 1/350th
As one of the second batch
scale to be precise. The result is
of P2000s, Tracker has the
a model Lusty (complete with
speed to pull off the act (25kts
Harriers, Merlins, Sea Kings,
as opposed to a maximum of
fl ight deck vehicles, Goalkeeper
SSnow White and now White and 14kts for most URNU boats).
defence system, RIBs and
For two days she became
admiral’s barge), the fi rst of which
‘Cleeve’s Clipper’ – named for
was presented to the carrier’s
XO, CPO(Sea) Jim Cleeve –
CO Capt Ben Key by Airfi x’s
an innocent fi shing boat one
marketing manager Darrell
moment, a terrorist craft full of
armed insurgents the next.
The kit version of Illustrious
The terrorists were in fact
comes in 276 parts; once pieced
tthe fihe fi ve ve wwharfsharfs
Oxford students and the ship’s
together, they make a replica of
company in desert combats
the carrier 603mm (23 3/4in)
(not necessarily ideal
long and 104mm (4in) wide – SNOW White would be HMS Bulwark.
clothing in January...) and
precisely 350 times smaller than
And the fi ve wharfs? the only weapons onboard
the real thing.
Harstad, Rosyth, Copenhagen, North Shields and finally back were water balloons, but
The complicated kit was
home to Devonport. it was realistic enough to
tackled by numerous members
Bulwark’s last act before beginning a refit in her home port give Albion’s warfare teams
of the ship’s company, including
was a whistle-stop (and very cold) tour of northern Europe. some good training and
AB(Sea) Ben Kersley (pictured
Leaving the Hamoaze with Christmas trees still up (well, Tracker’s Commanding
above by PO(Phot) Paul
they were ashore), the assault ship made for the Arctic Circle Offi cer, Lt Conor O’Neill, the
and the small Norwegian port of Harstad, base for Exercise chance to do some close-in
“It will be great to see models
Cold Response, Britain’s regular winter war games (see pages ship handling.
of the Illustrious sold around the
23-25). Bulwark’s taking no part herself in Cold Response, but He didn’t have all the fun
country,” said Capt Key. “It’s
the men she delivered, 45 Commando are. however, as Lt Richie Gray,
a real thrill to have a replica –
As the assault ship sailed, the heavens deposited the CO of slower sister boat
those of us who serve onboard
heaviest snowfall on the UK in a quarter of a century. HMS Trumpeter, came out
Illustrious are very proud of her.”
Meanwhile in Norway... Upon arrival in Harstad (150 miles to help for one of the days
A few privileged Airfi x buffs
inside the Arctic Circle) sailors and marines found little fresh and the students enjoyed
got their hands on the model
snow. returning ‘fi re’ against
in advance and gave it glowing
Luckily, there was plenty back in Scotland. Next stop was the Albion’s gunners.
reviews, saying it’s “a pleasure to
Forth for a snowy weekend sampling the delights (apparently
build” and a replica the fi rm can
there are some...) of the former naval base in Rosyth
be proud of.
(although there’s a fair chance most ship’s company
The kit (number A50059), is
headed across the river to Edinburgh...).
th Bridges
Susie is
on sale now, retail price £49.99
More snow beckoned during a brief visit to the Danish
(including paints, brushes and
capital. So bitter was it in Copenhagen – the official
meteorological term according to Commander Logistics
thrilled by
Aside from an instruction
Cdr Phil Waterhouse was “seriously cold” – that the
manual, a booklet detailing
18,000-ton warship was frozen into her basin in the heart
Illustrious’ history will be
of the city. Still, she looked pretty (see above).
included in the pack.
Back to Blighty and yet another dump of the white stuff.
You can see a video of an early
Bulwark made for North Shields so she could pay a visit to
FIFTEEN months after sending
version of the model on Airfi x’s
her affiliated county, Durham over four days in the North-
HMS Dragon down a slipway on
Youtube site:
East... which saw a particularly heavy snowfall.
the Clyde, the destroyer’s sponsor
The ship also hosted – or visited – her numerous
returned to Glasgow’s great
affiliates (take a deep breath): Forest of Teesdale Primary
artery to see the progress made.
Echo around
School, Trinity School (Durham), Harbour Lodge Care Home
Susie Boissier, plus her
(Seaham), Aycliffe Young Person’s Institute (Durham),
husband Vice Admiral Paul
the Diocese and Bishop of Durham, Giggleswick School
Boissier, were given a thorough
the mountains
Combined Cadet Force (North Yorkshire), Durham and
tour of Type 45 destroyer No.4
Bishop Auckland Hospitals and numerous local Sea Cadet
which is in the latter stages of
fitting out at BAE Systems’
THE Cairngorms to be precise as
The sailors also handed over a cheque for £1,000, split
Scotstoun yard – a short
the survey ship’s company headed
three ways among Durham affiliates, Help for Heroes and the
distance from where Dragon was
to Scotland for some adventurous
Royal Navy Royal Marines Charity. The cash came courtesy
launched, the firm’s Govan yard.
of a 192-mile run (the same distance as the circumference
Dragon’s sailors showed their
They picked the right time (lots
of County Durham) which the ship’s company completed
guests the hangar, operations
of snow) and the right guides
on running machines during the two-day passage from the
room, living spaces, galley, Sea
(Royal Marines, Britain’s cold
Kattegat to the Tyne.
Viper missile silo and bridge.
weather warfare experts) for the
There was another cheque to present, too: £250, this time
“What a thrill it was to
week in the Highlands.
to Redcar Sea Cadets. Having read Navy News cover-to-
County Dur
fi nally step onboard Dragon,”
Those sailors who weren’t
cover (quite rightly – Ed), the ship’s company discovered
said Mrs Boissier.
climbing mountains could
that the Sea Cadet Corps is looking to replace its sail training
“She is making fantastic
be found undergoing various
vessel TS Royalist, so they dipped into their pockets to help
progress and I’m sure it will
courses or overhauling their
not be long before the ship’s
ship in Devonport following her
Bulwark also threw her weight behind Durham’s bid to be
company are all on the high
18-month deployment, most of
‘City of Culture’ in 2013 (all 400 or so sailors and commandos
which was in the Far East.
joined the 33,000 or so names who’ve already given their
“The technology, and layout
They also hosted numerous
names to the push).
are awe inspiring and it must be
affi liates – the ship is, fi ttingly,
“We really looked forward to this visit and we weren’t
thrilling to see the whole thing
bound with Taunton, home of the
disappointed,” said CO Capt Gavin Pritchard.
come together.”
UK Hydrographic Offi ce – many
“It was an action-packed four days with opportunities for
The Boissiers then joined
of whom were paying their fi rst
every single member of the crew to get involved with some
Dragon’s sailors for dinner the
visit to Echo.
aspect of the visit. All visits are enjoyable, but one to a ship’s
evening before at the Òran Mór,
They learned about the ship’s
affiliated area is doubly so – and we are very lucky to be
a converted church in Glasgow.
accomplishments during her
affiliated to an area which has shown great pride in Bulwark
“It was great fun to meet
lengthy spell away, from the
and has always extended hospitality which is second to
most of the crew,” the sponsor
vast amounts of hydrographic/
oceanographic material she
So much did some affiliates enjoy their tour of Bulwark that
“I thought they were a
collected, to the various
they stayed aboard for the passage to Devonport where you’ll
terrifi c bunch, full of warmth,
high-profi le diplomatic visits
now find the ship undergoing her first docking period.
enthusiasm, professionalism and
“It’s been a hugely busy first five years in the RN, with the
Echo’s gearing up for a spell of
last two arguably being the busiest,” said Cdr Waterhouse.
Mrs Boissier will be back
Operational Sea Training in the
“You may have heard L15’s sigh of relief at her opportunity
aboard Dragon later in the year –
summer before deploying later in
to draw breath.”
when the Type 45 destroyer sails
the year. on her first series of sea trials.
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