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TUTTs out in Portsmouth

THE fi rst replacement tugs – or ‘marine service vessels’ in modern parlance (although somehow we think the old name will stick…) – are in Portsmouth now with the rest of the revamped fl eet in place by the year’s end as part of a £1bn overhaul of support craft for the fl eet. In all, there will be six ‘tugs of the future’ on the Solent, plus two pilot vessels, a work boat and a 1,500-tonne fuel lighter. They’re needed because the existing workhorses of the naval bases are getting long in the tooth and because the next-generation warships are considerably larger than their forebears. Type 45s are twice the size of the 42s they replace, while the future carriers are three times the displacement of the current Invincibles.

Here comes the science bit. The old tugs are TUTTs (twin- unit tractor tugs); their successors are ASDs and AFDs (Azimuth Stern/Azimuth Forward-Drive). Which will probably leave most

Picture: PO ‘Dutchy’ Holland, HMS York

Busy Baggers bag award

NO Naval, Royal Marine or Fleet Air Arm unit contributed more to the front-line effectiveness of the Senior Service in 2009 than the Airborne Surveillance and Control Sea Kings of 849, 854 and 857 Naval Air Squadrons. That’s quite some claim to

make. We’re not saying it. Nor are the three sister

squadrons based at RNAS Culdrose in Cornwall. No, that comes from (almost) the very top: Maj Gen Garry Robison RM, the RN’s Chief-of- Staff (Capability). He presented the inaugural Naval Capability Trophy to senior bagger, Cdr Matt Avison, Sea King Force Commander. The award has been

introduced to honour the unit – or individual – that has contributed most to the delivery of Naval capability in the past 12 months.

of you scratching your heads. In a nutshell, the new craft are powered by propellers at the stern or bow instead of the cycloidal drive in the middle of the boat. It means they’re faster and can pull heavier weights.

It also means tug crews need to undergo a substantial training package – which explains the considerable tug action over recent weeks in Portsmouth Harbour (there’s also a fair bit of instruction in the classroom as well). “It’s a learning curve, but it’s

one that we’re enjoying,” said Pat McFadyen, Marine Services Superintendent in Portsmouth Naval Base. “We are changing the whole

High seas, high drama

fl eet in Portsmouth so we can look forward to easily coping with the size of the new capital ships.” A new fl eet of 29 support

vessels are being provided across the RN as part of the £1bn Future Provision Marine Services contract.

Two per cent pay increase

EVERY man and woman in the Naval Service up to the rank of brigadier/commodore receives a two per cent pay rise as of the fi rst of this month.

Whitehall accepted the recommendations of the independent Armed Forces Pay Review Body as part of a £193m package of improvements in salaries and allowances across the three Services. The pay rise means that an Able Seaman/Marine will earn a minimum of £17,486 in the next 12 months, and possibly as much as £28,940 depending on experience, qualifications and responsibilities.

A newly-qualified lieutenant/

Royal Marines captain will receive between £37,916 and £45,090. The salary changes do not include medical/dental officers and senior officers; their pay is dealt with by separate review bodies.

Full details of the pay rises can be found in our 2-6 section (see

pages 30-31).

Other changes to pay and

allowances include an increase in the operational allowance for deployed personnel on a standard six-month tour of duty. It goes up £260 to £2,380.

Unpleasant living allowance

will now cover personnel living and operating from forward operating bases/patrol bases in Afghanistan.

The minimum entitlement threshold for Longer Separation Allowance (LSA) has been reduced from ten to seven days continuously separated. And provisions for LSA on

certain RN vessels are being extended to include all Service personnel operating under similar arrangements in the field or at sea.

BATTLING high seas and headwinds gusting to over 40 mph, tanker RFA Wave Ruler prepares to receive an RAF search and rescue helicopter at the height of a 600-mile mercy dash. Wave Ruler and destroyer HMS York picked up a distress signal from a trawler some 300 miles south-east of the Falklands and set off immediately; a sailor had suffered a suspected burst appendix. At that range the fi shing vessel, from the Republic of Kiribati in the Gilbert Islands, South Pacifi c, was beyond the range of the Mount Pleasant-based RAF Sea King. The solution? To use Wave Ruler’s fl ight deck and refuel half-way to its destination...

which is exactly what happened. Despite the heavy seas and strong southerly headwinds, Wave Ruler succeeded in topping up the Sea King using the tried-and-tested method of Helicopter In-Flight Refuelling. With the Sea King refuelled, both ships and the helicopter continued to head south until the Sea King reached the trawler and winched off the sick crew member. Aided by strong tail winds, it was not long before the helicopter had delivered the casualty to Port Stanley hospital. Wave Ruler has only just arrived in the

Falklands – the first time one of the Royal Fleet Auxiliary’s fast fl eet tankers patrolled the South Atlantic islands.

first leg of a deployment which will keep her away from the UK until late next year. The first three months of that lengthy

Ruler has replaced RFA Gold Rover on the

deployment sees Wave Ruler supporting operations by British forces in the South Atlantic, notably HMS York and the Falklands’ constant guardian HMS Clyde, as well as visiting South Georgia and ultimately the South Sandwich Islands.

Once her stint is up around the Falklands,

Wave Ruler will swap the South Atlantic for the North as she supports the war against drug trafficking in the Caribbean and provides assistance in the wake of any natural disaster to strike the region.

In the case of the ASaCs, they’ve been operating in an entirely new theatre (for them) since last spring: the skies of Afghanistan.

They underwent considerable training for their Afghan mission (a lot of it provided by their fellow Sea King fliers and Culdrose natives, 771 NAS) before using their radar and surveillance kit to positive effect over Afghanistan. There, in the words of their citation, the baggers are “at the forefront of the UK’s main effort on Operation Herrick”. The commendation continues: “Through grit, unswerving dedication and the ability to meet significant issues head-on – and with solutions – the Sea King ASaC Force is delivering crucial operational capability to the joint force Coalition in Afghanistan.”

Kent’s speed date

WHAT do you get if you cross a speedway team, a giant football top, some warfare offi cers and new pieces of kit? Why, HMS Kent of course. We’ll begin with the Lakeside Hammers who rode aboard Kent

Cup, speedway’s FA Cup – are sponsored by the Senior Service because (a) youngsters interested in the sport are the sort of people the RN’s looking to attract and (b) it gets the Navy lots of exposure on Sky Sports... watched by the sort of people the RN’s looking to attract. A quick change of sports and a giant (50ft) football shirt was carried aboard and laid out on the flight deck (it just fitted). The oversized top – signed by World Cup winner George Cohen, legendary keeper Peter Shilton and stalwart defender Stuart ‘Psycho’ Pearce – is doing the rounds of England to drum up support for this summer’s footie fest. The frigate will have to follow the tournament, which begins on June 11, from afar... something she can do thanks to some additional wizardry. “We’ve recently been fitted with a new satellite TV service that works

at sea as well as alongside. Everyone will be able to watch each match live, no matter where the ship is,” said weapon engineer officer Lt Cdr Peter Pipkin. It’s the responsibility of his department to make sure it works, so no pressure there then… (With apologies to Welsh, Irish and Scottish members of Kent’s ship’s

company whose teams won’t be appearing in the finals sadly…) Kent spent nearly three months alongside in Portsmouth for maintenance following her Gulf deployment, which ended just before Christmas. So the first few days back at sea – in the hands of her new CO Cdr Nick Cooke-Priest – saw equipment trials and training exercises to ensure that the ship was fi t to continue with the operational programme she has ahead of her this year – including more kit tests and principal warfare offi cer training.

(yes, they took one of their bikes up the gangway and even on to the

forecastle) for a photoshoot (pictured above with ET(WE)s Fiona Farrell, Joe Allen and Oliver Ramage by LA(Phot) Dean Nixon).

The Essex-based riders – current holders of the Elite League KO

Keeping you in touch

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