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£200K shaved off fuel bill

A STRING of energy-saving measures – including hi-tech computer software – helped RN and RM establishments to cut their annual energy bills by £200,000.

Some 700 ‘Smart meters’ have been fitted in numerous buildings at the Yeovilton and Culdrose air stations, Royal Marines bases at Chivenor, Norton Manor, Bickleigh, Turnchapel, Lympstone and Instow, plus the Commando gunners at The Citadel in Plymouth.

Every night the meters send information about the use of oil, gas and electricity to energy boffins – the Co-ordinated Energy Bureau – who use computer software to work out what fuel’s being used, and what’s being wasted.

In some cases, the analysts spotted savings which could be made by changing the way a building’s occupants work. One site in Stonehouse has cut fuel use by four fifths thanks to the advice of the energy experts. Elsewhere, the data collected helps the boffins decide where new kit was needed.

Combined heat and power units have been installed at the swimming pool in Lympstone, loft insulation has been fitted to buildings at Chivenor, roofs and pipes at Culdrose insulated, and a high-efficiency boiler is being fitted at the Cornish air base.

The result has been a £200,000 saving – and a considerable reduction in carbon dioxide emissions from the various establishments. Across the Forces, the MOD wants to see carbon emissions cut by 15 per cent by next year.

THE BUSIEST has become even busier.

The men and women of HMS Gannet set four search and rescue records in 2009 as their Sea Kings were airborne at least once every day.

The helicopters attended 447 emergencies in all – 65 up on 2008.

The result was that 378 people owe their lives to – or were helped in some way by – Gannet’s team in 2009.

All that helped the unit to set four records: busiest UK helicopter search and rescue unit, record for most people rescued in a single year, first

Record rescuers

unit to break the 400 call-out barrier in one year, and first unit to set new call-out records for three consecutive years.

Gannet accounts for 20 per cent of the call-outs by all eight military search and rescue units in Britain (two RN, the rest are RAF). The unit is responsible for 98,000 square miles of land and ocean

covering northern England, Northern Ireland, and Scotland from the English border to Ben Nevis and Inner Hebrides to Edinburgh. One in five scrambles involves transferring medical cases from Scotland’s isolated western islands to the mainland for treatment, while two in five rescues involved accident victims – road smashes or more usually climbers and walkers – who needed flying to hospital. Among the more memorable missions of 2009 were the rescue of a

16-year-old girl who fell from her bicycle into a raging river, guiding a stricken Cessna pilot to safety, and lifting a pensioner to safety when her car became trapped by flood waters. “Absolutely everyone – from the aircrew to the engineers, weather forecasters, office staff, ground crew and support staff – plays their part in ensuring that there’s a helicopter ready to respond 24 hours a day, whatever the call may be,” said Gannet’s CO Lt Cdr Debdash Bhattacharaya. “It’s a phenomenal sustained effort aimed at supporting the people of Scotland, Northern Ireland and northern England who can feel a little safer in the knowledge that we’re ready to help at a moment’s notice.” Given just how busy Gannet is, it’s hardly surprising that two of her aircrew have passed the 600 and 700 call-out milestones (observer Lt Cdr Martin ‘Florry’ Ford and PO Marcus ‘Wiggy’ Wigfull respectively). Lt Cdr Ford clocked up 288 call-outs in just two years at Gannet (he

was also heavily in demand in his 771 NAS days at Culdrose and earned the Air Force Cross for his role in rescuing victims of the 2004 Boscastle floods in Cornwall). PO Wigfull is Gannet’s senior aircrewman who’s spent 13 years of his Service career in SAR, during which time he’s been awarded the Queen’s Commendation for Bravery in the Air for plucking three people from a stricken yacht off the Ayrshire coast. UK SAR statistics only go back to 1983. Since then, Gannet’s helicopters have been scrambled on 5,519 occasions with 4,286 people rescued/helped (as of New Year’s Eve 2009).

Out of many, one...

AND just in case you thought 2010 would be any different for the Gannet team...

In an epic nine-hour sortie, the fl iers delivered a four-strong medical team – plus incubators – to the side of twin premature babies in Stornoway, 200 miles from base in Prestwick. Before they could fly to the Outer Hebrides, the Gannet team of Lt Andy Ellis, Capt Michael ‘Jack’ Frost RM, Lt Cdr Martin ‘Florry Ford and PO Taff Ashman had to pick up the medics and those two incubators (each weighing 320lbs) from Glasgow Airport and stop on Skye to refuel.

ensure that the twins, born at 34 weeks, were stable, before they were loaded on to the Sea King in their incubators, for return to Glasgow’s Southern General Hospital (pictured above). The little boys, sons of Fiona and Peter McDonald, were born weighing 4lbs 13oz and 5lbs 15oz respectively. After spending several days in hospital they returned safely to Stornoway. “It was a good result from our perspective and it’s great to hear that the babies are doing well – which is the most important thing; that’s what it was all about – a happy ending,” said pilot Lt Ellis. “It’s a real pleasure to be able to help like this.”

The medics worked with Stornoway Hospital’s neo-natal unit to

’set for east of Suez again

AFTER her exertions in the Far East supporting last year’s Taurus amphibious deployment, HMS Somerset’s about to head through Suez once more. Since Christmas, the Type 23

frigate has been hard at work preparing for her deployment to the Middle East and Gulf. And work in peacetime doesn’t come much harder than a spot of Basic Operational Sea Training with the taskmasters of FOST. The first stages of BOST are general purpose, testing the ship and her 180 men and women in every challenge they could face. The later weeks with the

Devonport-based trainers are customised, focusing specifically on the day-to-day tasks the frigate will be expected to perform once operations begin – notably board and search.

territory, Somerset will be expected to fly the flag for the mother country around the world.

As 4,200 tons of sovereign

ship’s ability to ‘meet and greet’ the locals.

So one strand of FOST tests a

The locals in question were the good folk of the small Cornish town of Fowey, where the frigate spent a weekend. CO Andrew Burns hosted a reception and capability demonstration for local guests as well as a lunch for the Lord Lieutenant of Cornwall and Fowey’s mayor.

opportunity for a tour of the ship and on the Sunday the ship received over 700 visitors (that’s roughly one in three of the town’s inhabitants). Somerset will deploy after a spot of maintenance in Devonport and Easter leave.

Westminster benefi ts from capital investment

to be precise.

A year-long £11m refi t is over for the ‘capital ship’ which has returned to sea for trials ahead of schedule. You last read about Westminster’s deeds in the spring of 2009 when she was helping the Indians hunt HMS Trafalgar during the annual Konkan exercises (held for once in UK waters). Since then, Trafalgar has lowered the White Ensign for good while Westminster decamped to Devonport (she’s normally based in Portsmouth) and was handed over to the good folk of Babcock.

They’ve done rather a lot of work on the 18-year- old warship in the intervening period. For a start they removed the old Seawolf trackers and installed fresh ones as part of the

GENTLY emerging from Devonport’s cavernous frigate shed appropriately enough is one frigate of the Type 23 class, Her Majesty’s Ship Westminster

upgrade for the missile system which effectively doubles its range; so the theory goes, the ship could intercept a cricket ball traveling at Mach 2 more than 20 miles away. Engineers also ripped out Westminster’s brain, her command system which is designed to cope with threats in the air, on the surface and underwater, and put in a new one – DNA(2) – as well as fi tting the ship with the Forces’ new e-mail/ internet and internal communications network.

gearwheel slotted into place to restore the port gear box to 100 per cent power.

The stern received a ‘go faster spoiler’ – better known as a transom fl ap – the bulbous main gun was lifted off… and the angular ‘Kryten’ lowered in its place, 40 kilometres (25 miles) of cabling were laid, 300 new items manufactured and 1,100 items taken to workshops in Devonport for an overhaul before being returned. Westminster’s hull was blasted back to bare metal, a large hole cut in the side and a new main

Next a coating of Intersleek paint was applied – “a modern, exceptionally slippery, low friction anti-fouling paint,” explains marine engineer officer Lt Cdr Bob Beaver. In a nutshell, it stops organisms in the oceans sticking to the hull and increasing the ship’s drag. All in all, quite a works package. 200,000 man hours to be precise, making Westminster “the most capable Type 23 frigate in the Fleet”. Shortly before the Babcock team

fi nished their overhaul, the ship hosted her sponsor Lady Sally Livesay. Lady Livesay launched F237 on a February day in 1992. She’s been a frequent visitor in the intervening 18 years and dropped in on the ship’s company as they moved back on board to discuss life aboard Westminster at the start of a new decade. “It was great to see in progress such a lot

of the hard work that has been going on to get Westminster back to top fi ghting form – and great too to fi nd that everyone seemed so enthusiastic, positive and determined: v ery much the spirit of the ship that I have come to recognise and appreciate,” she said. The ship’s now in the throes of eight weeks of intensive sea trials before she offi cially returns to the Fleet next month.

Picture: LMEA ‘Crash’ Evans, HMS Westminster

Local Sea Cadets had the

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