Wednesday, 29 May 2013

SOMERSET Starts The Race – the Type 23 Frigate SOMERSET acted as the starting platform for a singlehanded transatlantic yacht race setting off the twenty boat sailing race set off from Plymouth heading for Newport, Rhode Island, with the SOMERSET starting proceedings using the 3lb Saluting Gun.   The SOMERSET took time out from Operational Sea Training to embark Race Officials, accompanied by 50 guests from the Royal Western Yacht Club, who organise the race.
Defence College of Technical Training Schools - The Defence School of Marine Engineering at HMS SULTAN, one of the six recently formed Defence College of Technical Training Schools, is currently delivering a ten (10) month joint Army/Navy Marine Engineers career course for a combined class of Army Corporals and Navy Leading Hands.    For the Army, the joint training model, in addition to financial savings, will open the possibility of embedding soldiers with the Royal Marine Amphibious Assault Squadrons who currently rely on the Navy for engineering support.     It also arms the individual with an NVQ Level 3 in Engineering Maintenance which is achieved once they complete mandatory engineering tasks in their sea training journal.

Royal Navy Skills-At-Arms Meeting - The Royal Marines swept the board winning all the team event trophies at this year’s Royal Navy Skills-At-Arms meeting held at the Torpoint HMS RALEIGH Military Training Unit.      With seven team trophies and six individual trophies at stake, the Royal Marines of 43 Commando (Arbroath) were the winners of four prizes,  with 30 Commando (Plymouth) and 42 Commando (Plymouth) taking the others.     The Military Training Unit at HMS RALEIGH provides the weapons training for Naval Service personnel at all levels, ensuring that they are fully prepared to protect themselves or their units on operations at sea and ashore.    

Flight Deck Training on the USS DWIGHT G.EISENHOWER – a four strong Royal Navy Flight Deck team are learning (or rather recovering) crucial skills for the future Aircraft Carriers onboard the American Carrier USS DWIGHT G.EISENHOWER.    The first “Brits” have qualified to marshal jets around the deck of the American Aircraft Carrier currently on operations in the Middle East.    This training is part of an agreement with Washington – the US-UK Long Lead Specialist Skills Programme – a kernel of around 300 personnel from both the Royal Navy and Royal Air Force will be trained aboard American warships until the end of the decade.     Since the beginning of 2013  Royal Navy personnel have also been serving with the Assault Ship USS KEARSARGE.
CARDIGAN BAY Medical Test – the Landing Ship RFA CARDIGAN BAY, acting as the Depot ShipEast of Suez”, usually alongside at Bahrain acting as the floating command and support ship for the four strong Minecountermeasure Force.  During the recent International Mine Countermeasures Exercise in the region the RFA CARDIGAN BAY has tested the ship’s Sick Bay with a gory two day mass casualty drill..   The 18 strong team in the Sick Bay were expected to deal with victims of explosions during a major international mine warfare exercise.       Given the background of the exercise that incident was a simulated mine strike: an explosion ripping through the hull of a merchantman, wounding six sailors. Two were in danger of losing limbs, another could not breathe, whilst a fourth was badly burned.

The pint of the Exercise was to show that medical aid is damage control surgery – performing immediate, life saving operations, so that the patient can be transferred to hospital for more comprehensive, long term care.   It’s the first time the concept – regularly practised in the field, such as at Chivenor by the Royal Marines Forward Surgical Group– has been tried out on the Landing Ships RFA CARDIGAN BAY, RFA LYME BAY or RFA MOUNTS BAY.
ENTERPRISE Home – the Survey Ship ENTERPRISE has returned home to Plymouth after nine months charting the waters East of Suez having mapped an area 15 times the size of her hometown, uncovering unknown wrecks and stunning underwater features.   The bulk of ENTERPRISE’s deployment was focused in the Red Sea, where the ship’s sensors revealed a Grand Canyon style feature on the seabed.

Red Rose On Duty – the departure of the Type 23 Frigate LANCASTER for the Caribbean and six months on Atlantic Patrol (North) duty has recently and previously been reported.  We omitted to mention that the six month deployment is the first time in several years that a Warship, rather than a Royal Fleet Auxiliary, has performed this duty although recently Royal Navy vessels have conducted operations in the region on the way back from the South Atlantic, notably the Type 45 Destroyer DAUNTLESS, the Type 42 Destroyer EDINBURGH and most recently the Ice Patrol Ship PROTECTOR.

Thales Electronic Support Contract – the MoD has signed a ten year extension to an existing support contract which was started in 2003 is valued at £600m for servicing the electronics of Royal Navy fleet covering naval periscopes, sonars and surveillance gear.   It also secures some 530 skilled jobs in the UK.     The contract will apply to seventeen (17) systems, including the ASTUTE, TRAFALGAR and VANGUARD Class Submarines, as well as Type 45 Destroyers, the Type 23 Frigates and both the Hunt and Sandown Classes of Minecountermeasure Vessels.    The French owned Thales will provide worldwide support and repairs for the equipment from the Thales sites in Glasgow, Manchester, Somerset, and Crawley, as well as from the Royal Navy Naval bases.

Wednesday, 22 May 2013

Fleet Diving Unit 3 – the specialist Royal Navy Diving Unit with its ten strong team of explosive ordnance disposal divers has been busy keeping the Gulf port safe during major mine exercise.    British and Dutch divers are working side by side in the warm, salty waters of Bahrain port as part of a major Gulf exercise dealing with the threat of mines.    Fleet Diving Unit 3 are the Royal Navy's specialist shallow water divers, experts in keeping ports and harbours free of mines.

Fleet Diving Unit 3 deployed for the two week exercise to a rather drab jetty in Bahrain’s Mina Salman port, fresh from taking part in the Joint Warrior war games in Scotland, when they were working in much cooler waters off Campbeltown.     The Fleet Diving Unit 3 equipment can be contained in a couple of “chacon” containers (what are they ?) which, with a tent, also serve as their home.   Technology substantially helps the work of team of explosive ordnance disposal divers, notably the REMUS 100 (the 100 signifies the depth in metres it works to), an autonomous underwater vehicle – robot submersible.    About half the length of a torpedo, it ‘flies’ about three metres above the seabed, looking for anything unusual – its side-scan sonar can pick up something as small as a 500ml bottle of water.    It’s set off on a pre-programmed route by the dive team.    It will take about three to four hours to search a square kilometre of seabed and a similar amount of time to process the data.
PORTLAND Home – the Type 23 Frigate PORTLAND visited the namesake town for the first time in three years, allowing the sailors to exercise the Freedom of the Borough.   The PORTLAND spent four days in the port, as the Frigate took a short breather from a lengthy stint of training and regeneration following a 12 month refit in Rosyth and is now gearing up for a two month spell of Operational Sea Training which begins in June (2013).

Glowing Feedback on LIGHTNING 11 – the first Fleet Air Arm pilot has given glowing feedback of ‘unrivalled’ next generation fighter, and says it will give the nation’s future carriers “unrivalled” striking power.     The small British team are based with VMFAT 501Marine Fighter Attack Training Squadron 501, known as the “Warlords”, who were formed especially in 2010 to bring the F-35 into service with the US Marine Corps.    Collectively, the British and American pilots are putting in eight to twelve sorties every day from Eglin Air Force Base.    The verdict came from Lieutenant Commander Ian Tidball after a month flying the F35 LIGHTNING II – the most advanced stealth fighter in the world.   The veteran HARRIER pilot is learning the art of flying the jet, also known as the Joint Strike Fighter, alongside fellow trailblazer Squadron Leader Frankie Buchler from the RAF, supported by a 13 strong team of British maintainers – seven Fleet Air Arm, six Royal Air Force.

Lieutenant Commander Ian Tidball has 1,300 hours behind him in the cockpit of HARRIERs, followed by time flying the American F-18 SUPER HORNET.    The UK currently has three test versions of the LIGHTNING 11 F-35B – the short take-off/vertical landing variant of the aircraft – which are being used not just to train the pilots, but also the engineers and technicians in the art of maintaining a stealth fighter which is two generations ahead of the HARRIER.

Although the F-35 is assembled in the USA by Lockheed Martin, the fighter is an Anglo-American venture with around one seventh of it designed and built in the UK. Around 130 British firms are providing parts and equipment for it, worth around £ 1bn per year to the UK economy.

Once training at Eglin is completed – probably next year – the British team is due to decamp from Florida to Edwards Air Force Base in California where, having learned how to fly the F-35, they carry out operational tests to prepare it for front line service.     The Fleet Air Arm and Royal Air Force are due to start receiving front line F-35B in 2016, operating out of RAF Marham, (near King’s Lynn), where land based testing and training flights will continue through 2017.     The first test flights from the Aircraft Carrier QUEEN ELIZABETH are planned in 2018.
847 Squadron Home – the LYNX AH.9A helicopters of 847 Naval Air Squadron has completed a final four month tour of duty in Afghanistan and have now returned to their base as Yeovilton and rejoined the Commando Helicopter Force.    This is the fourth and final stint in Helmand by the Squadron.   The role of 847 Squadron was often to act as the ‘eyes in the skies’ both for ground forces and RAF CHINOOK HC.2/2A and MERLIN HC.2 helicopters.

847 Naval Air Squadron was relieved by 661 Squadron Army Air Corps, and after leave, 847 Squadron will begin the conversion process as they get to grips with the WILDCAT which is to replace all the Fleet Air Arm and Army Air Corps LYNX in the coming years.  847 Naval Air Squadron will be the first frontline unit to get its hands on the new helicopter.
LANCASTER Off To ATP (North) – the Type 23 Frigate LANCASTER has started a six month deployment to the North Atlantic and Caribbean.    The Frigate has completed months of rigorous training, and the tasking will focus on the reassurance and security of the British Overseas Territories, the provision of humanitarian aid and disaster relief during the core hurricane season and counter narcotic operations with partner nations.     During the deployment LANCASTER (known as the “Queen’s Frigate” after her sponsor) will visit all six of the British Overseas Territories in the region as well as numerous Commonwealth and Caribbean countries in order to conduct regional defence engagement.    This deployment is the first by the LANCASTER since an extensive refit in 2011-12 during which upgrades included the latest version of the SEAWOLF missile defence system as well as a new flight deck.

RICHMOND Nearly – the Type 23 Frigate RICHMOND, currently working up under the watchful eye of Flag Officer Sea Training is preparing for a forthcoming deployment later this year.    On completion of the training, the RICHMOND will undertake a comprehensive maintenance period before deployment..
EDINBURGH Nearly Done – the farewell voyage of the Type 42 Destroyer EDINBURGH is nearly done – the Destroyer has departed from the Ocean Terminal at Edinburgh for the last time, have six days bidding farewell to the ship’s affiliated city (Edinburgh).     The EDINBURGH is next scheduled for a two day transit around the northern tip of Scotland, before joining other ships from various countries, including Russia and Poland, in Liverpool to continue with the Battle of the Atlantic 70th Anniversary Commemorations.   The EDINBURGH from Liverpool will sail for Portsmouth where the ship will decommission on the 6th June 2013, marking the end of her 30 year service with the Royal Navy.

Mali Adventure - A team of 40 British troops (including Royal Marines) will be under French command as part of an EU Training Mission - the UK is also providing surveillance and logistical support to French troops who are helping the west African nation counter an Islamist insurgency.   The 21 members of the 1st Battalion/The Royal Irish Regiment will be joined by members of the 45 Commando RM and 29 Commando Regiment RA to complete the 40 strong UK Team.       The training will take place north east of Mali's capital Bamako, under the control of French Brigadier General and is expected to continue for around 15 months.    More than 200 instructors will be deployed in total, as well as mission support staff and force protection, making a total of around 500 staff from 22 EU Member States.

IMCMEX 13 Sees Japanese Join RFA CARDIGAN BAY - Four (4) Japanese anti-mine experts have joined the Landing Ship RFA CARDIGAN BAY which is acting as Depot Ship at Bahrain for British Minecountermeasure forces in the area.   The Japanese mine clearance divers, unmanned underwater vehicle (UUV) operators and mine warfare specialists conducted training serials with the UK.    This is the third time Japanese teams have worked with the US and UK on this kind of exercise.   The Japanese reportedly commented that "The culture and life on board are very different” and that “But we have found CARDIGAN BAY to be very comfortable, and the food in particular is very good!"

TRENCHANT Home - the Fleet Submarine TRENCHANT is due “home” after an eleven (11) month (335 day) patrol.  It is believed that this period away from the UK is the longest ever UK nuclear submarine deployment.    The TRENCHANT departed Devonport in June 2012 and has undertaken one of the longest TRAFALGAR Class submarine deployments.   During this deployment the submarine spent 267 days “East of Suez”, continuing the British submarine presence that has been established there since 2001.     During this time the vessel has visited six different ports:
·         East of Suez : Fujairah (UAE), Diego Garcia (the British Indian Ocean Territory), Bahrain and Aqaba (Jordan)
·         Mediterranean ; Souda Bay (Crete) and Gibraltar.

The deployment has spanned 38,800 nautical miles (the equivalent of 1¾ times around the world) and the submarine has spent over 4,700 hours underwater (equivalent of 6½ months).      Of the crew of 170 (of which 130 is the maximum at sea), seven have been ‘Black Watch’ (i.e. have been onboard, and not been home, for the entire trip).

Saturday, 18 May 2013

Royal Marines To Receive the Freedom of the City of Glasgow - The Royal Marines will be awarded the city’s highest honour - the Freedom of the City - It will mark a wonderful 2014 for Glasgow, the year it hosts the Commonwealth Games, and the year this proud service celebrates its 350th anniversary.      Since its formation, the Royal Marines has enjoyed strong links with Glasgow and continues to have a permanent presence in the city, through the Glasgow Detachment of the Royal Marines Reserve at Govan, which was originally raised in Greenock (Glasgow) in 1948.    Elsewhere in Scotland the Royal Marine Reserves have Detachments in Dundee, Aberdeen and Edinburgh, and of course has 43 Commando RM engaged in Force Protection at HM Naval Base Clyde (and elsewhere) as well as 45 Commando RM based at RM Condor at Arbroath.     Does one get the impression that with the possibility, however remote, of Scottish Independence all the military in Scotland are being recognised one way or another ?

Dragonia, Pastonia are in the British Isles – During Exercise Joint Warrior was based on various scenarios but needed are air of reality and geography which had to be re-written for the Exercise.    Dragonia” was the North of England and most of Wales, “Pastonia” was Scotland, facing off in the “Wallian Archipelago” commonly known as the British Isles.   Now you know!

Black Knight Home – the Type 23 Frigate MONMOUTH has returned home from a successful seven month deployment to the Gulf.     There was a warm welcome from families and friends of the crew when the ship sailed into HM Naval Base, Devonport, where on the jetty was a Royal Marines Band to greet them and the families saw an impressive flyover by the ship’s ‘Black Knight’ LYNX HMA.8 helicopter
Afghanistan Done – the 700 men of 40 Commando RM marched through Taunton (Somerset) to mark to end of their dozen year campaign in Afghanistan - The parade was followed by a medals presentation back at base in Norton Manor Camp, where the HRH Duke of Edinburgh was guest of honour.   HRH Duke of Edinburgh is of course the honorary head of the Royal Marines.       The unit is now on eight weeks’ leave before resuming training.      In the last dozen years 40 Commando RM has deployed four times to Afghan a cost of 18 lives, while the parent 3 Commando Brigade RM has suffered 61 deaths – and many more wounded.
MONTROSE Fired Everything – the Type 23 Frigate MONTROSE unleashing every weapon aboard, missiles, guns, torpedoes and decoys were all loosed in a display of total firepower known in the Royal Navy as a ‘grand slam’.   Over seven days off the coasts of Scotland and Wales in the Exercise Joint Warrior serial the “ordnance odyssey” – believed to be the first time a Type 23 Frigate has unleashed as much firepower in a single week – began with a rare launching of two HARPOON anti-ship missiles in the mid-Atlantic.    That was quickly followed by the SEA GNAT chaff dispensers scattering decoys to distract incoming homing missiles.    Next up was the very rare launch of the onboard STINGRAY torpedoes.   Typically fired by the Frigate’s embarked LYNX HMA.8 or MERLIN HM.1 the Type 23 Frigates also carry four tubes – the Magazine Torpedo Launching System – to launch the weapon (which was subsequently recovered from the sea of Hebrides).    A day of small arms and close range gunnery against floating targets using the 30mm Automated Small Calibre Gun, plus a pair of Mk44 Miniguns and all the ship’s General Purpose Machine Guns were discharged.      After that the main 4.5in gun – billed by her Weapons Engineering Department as “the most reliable turret in the fleet” was let loose.   To complete the “Grand Slam” the penultimate weapon system to be tested was the SEA WOLF missile system – the main line of defence against attacking enemy aircraft and missiles.    The final piece of the Grand Slam jigsaw was a ceremonial firing of the saluting gun, fired seven times as MONTROSE returned to Plymouth Sound.  The MONTROSE was fine tuning all aboard and is now about to start a final period of maintenance ahead  the expected six month deployment shortly.  
Massive Minehunting in the Gulf – A major Royal Navy minehunting exercise in Gulf saw six British ships and more than 600 British sailors are involved in the biggest mine warfare exercise ever staged.   Over 40 nations have committed divers, helicopters, robot submarines and nearly three dozen ships to the two week IMCMEX - International Mine Counter-Measures Exercise.   Some thirty five ships, diving teams and mine warfare experts from every continent except Antarctica accepted the invitation to the second IMCMEX.     The exercise follows the success of the inaugural IMCMEX last September (2012).

The British contingent comprised the Type 45 Destroyer DRAGON and the Bahrain based Royal Navy Minecountermeasure Force, which has the Landing Ship RFA CARDIGAN BAY acting as “Depot Ship” and all four of the Royal Navy's Gulf based minehunters, the Hunt Class Minecountermeasure Vessels ATHERSTONE and QUORN, and the Sandown Class Minecountermeasure Vessels RAMSEY and SHOREHAM.

Thursday, 16 May 2013

PROTECTOR Excellence – the Ice Patrol Ship PROTECTOR has been presented with the 2012 Fleet Engineering Excellence Award by Commodore Ian Shipperley, Assistant Chief of Staff for Surface Ships and Submarines for consistently demonstrating engineering excellence over a prolonged period of a demanding operational programme.   Surface Flotilla Effectiveness Trophies are awarded annually to ships or other units in recognition of achievement of excellence.

SCOTT Through Life – the Survey Ship SCOTT, which commissioned in 1997, is now to be maintained by Babcock on the back of a new through life support contract with the MoD which includes an option to extend the award for a further five years starting in 2018.      The contract will focus on providing improved platform availability and sustainability, while ensuring effective targeting of funding for the MoD.
ASTUTE Nearly – The Fleet Submarine ASTUTE has been carrying out warm water and other trials at the Atlantic Undersea Test and Evaluation Centre on Andros Island (Bahamas) and off the USA Eastern Seaboard as the vessel gears up to making a first operational patrol towards the end of this year (2013).     It is the second stint of trials in the region for the first of the ASTUTEs, the first being over the winter of 2011-12 in these same waters, including sparring with the American Virginia Class USS NEW MEXICO during the trials deep diving, and fired TOMAHAWK missiles (four) and SPEARFISH torpedoes, with the ASTUTE clocking up 16,400 miles during the deployment.   This time around, the ASTUTE focused on warm weather tests – sea temperatures of 25˚C, rather than the more usual 10˚C (on the Clyde) – and other capability trials ahead of her operational handover.

The ranges off Andros Island (south west of Nassau) are centred on a 6,000ft deep natural phenomenon, the Tongue of the Ocean, a huge deep-water bowl carved out of coral reef, which resembles the Rolling Stones’ famous tongue logo.   The “tongue” is crammed with sensors and hydrophones to record reams of data on how well a submarine is performing.    Once the trials in the Western Atlantic are completed, ASTUTE is due to return to Faslane, and following a period of operational sea training – required of any submarine (or ship) preparing to deploy – the ASTUTE be available for front line duties.

DARING Goes Global - The Type 45 Destroyer DARING will demonstrate true global reach during a nine month deployment which starts later this month (May 2013) and will include:-
·         Contributing to maritime security in the Asia Pacific
·         Conducting science and technology trials in the Pacific
·         Representing the UK in Exercise Bersama Lima in South East Asia

Hamburg DEFENDER – the Type 45 Destroyer DEFENDER has spent three days at the world’s largest harbour festival at Hamburg.   The DEFENDER sailed up the Elbe to Hamburg at night to take part in the 824th ‘birthday’ of the great port – a celebration of the sea, plus maritime culture, food and music.  The DEFENDER was but a small part of the fleet of schooners, cruise liners (including the Carnival Cunarder QUEEN MARY 2), brigs, steamers, cutters and warships with an estimated one and a half million visitors celebrating this event.

Sunday, 12 May 2013

HARPOON Launch – the Type 23 Frigate MONTROSE, fresh from participating in the Joint Warrior Exercise test fired a HARPOON Anti-Ship Missile with a range of 80 miles away.    The 15ft missile, which travels at just under the speed of sound before impact, resulted in the target barge being completely destroyed.   The MONTROSE like all the Type 23 Frigates are equipped with two quadruple HARPOON launchers i.e.: 8 anti-ship missiles.
Dolphin Deaths – the Royal Navy has been blamed for driving dozens of dolphins to an agonising death during anti-submarine war games.   A four year investigation by scientists has ruled out every other cause for the UK’s largest stranding of common dolphins in shallows off the coast of Cornwall in 2008.    At the time, the area was hosting a week of ‘live fire’ war games involving twenty (20) Royal Navy ships, helicopters and submarines – including the Fleet Submarine TORBAY,    Eleven (11) foreign vessels were also present in the area.   The scientists now believe trials of anti-submarine warfare techniques, using a range of mid-frequency sonar devices in the water to detect hidden vessels, were the most likely cause of the dolphins’ deaths.   The Royal Navy has rejected the investigation’s findings.

The Patrol Is Over – the Ice Patrol Ship PROTECTOR has returned “home” at the end of a nine month deployment to the ‘Frozen Continent’.    The PROTECTOR deployed last September (2012) and “”passaged” south via St Helena, Simon's Town (South Africa) and Tristan da Cunha before arriving in Antarctica in early December (2012).      The PROTECTOR operated in the British Antarctic Territory, South Georgia and the South Sandwich Islands throughout the Austral Summer, the ship conducted three intensive work periods in the ice, and a fourth work period in the waters surrounding South Georgia.    The programme included:
·         providing direct support to a UK led multi-national Antarctic Treaty Inspection team
·         landing and recovering British Antarctic Survey scientists at ecologically important sites; assisting with ongoing environmental and conservation work including hosting an international team updating the visitor guidelines for regularly visited sites and surveying the poorly charted waters around the Antarctic Peninsula.
·         The multi-beam echo sounder and Survey Motor Boat provides hi-tech hydrographic charting and imagery used to improve the navigational awareness and safety of other ships and mariners operating in the area.
The PROTECTOR is due to deploy on Patrol to the Antarctic again in autumn 2013.

The Truth About the the Carriers – the National Audit Office reports that the F-35B will face problems landing on our new Aircraft Carriers in hot weather.   The National Audit Office further says that the version of the Joint Strike Fighter that has been bought for the carriers is still in development but currently cannot land vertically – as its predecessor the HARRIER could – in warm climates without jettisoning heavy payloads.    The MoD insists the problem will be overcome by the time the first Carrier is ready for service in 2020, but it is one of a number of concerns pointed out by the National Audit Office over a project that has been bedevilled by delays and cost increases.

The spending watchdog says the early warning "CROWSNEST" radar needed by the Carriers will not be fully operational until 2022, meaning the ships will need protection from other navy vessels for two years while trials are completed.      Investment in the CROWSNEST radar had been delayed to cut costs, but this means when the first Carrier becomes operational "some tasks could only be undertaken with additional risks," the National Audit Office says.

Despite the difficulties, the National Audit Office says the MoD avoided further financial calamity last year by choosing a different version of the Joint Strike Fighter to fly from the carriers, the biggest warships ever built for the navy.    Originally the military decided it wanted the so-called "short take off, vertical landing" version of the Joint Strike Fighter, which is being built and tested in the US. But in 2010, the MoD dumped the plan, with the Prime Minister arguing in the Strategic Defence and Security Review that another type of the fighter-bomber was much more capable and compatible with the UK's allies.    The Coalition changed position again in May 2012, reverting back to the short take off, vertical landing aircraft because the cost of refitting the carriers to accommodate the superior planes was running out of control.   Today's report by the National Audit Office castigates the 2010 decision, saying it was "based on immature data and a number of flawed assumptions".     Persevering with the refitting of the Carriers would have cost £1.2bn more than the MoD had bargained for, and left the first ship, the QUEEN ELIZABETH without any aircraft until 2023 – three years after it is due to go into service.  The National Audit Office praised senior Defence Officials for "acting quickly" once the scale of the costs became clear, but said the MoD will still have to write off at least £74m as a result of its second U-turn.      "This cost could have been 10 times higher if the decision had been made after May 2012," the National Audit Office says.

The National Audit Office warns the Carrier project is still vulnerable to delays and cost overruns because the "highest risk phases of construction and integration are yet to come", including the laying of 2.5 million metres of cabling throughout the 65,000 tonne ship.    The MoD has committed to 48 fighters in a first tranche, but tests on the jet "are slipping" and the early production versions of the aircraft are "likely to have less capability than planned", the National Audit Office notes.
Bird Control Units - when a bird hits an aircraft this is known as a bird strike. Bird strikes are the single greatest cause of accidents sustained by military aircraft and tragically the loss of human life or serious injury to aircrew.   As most birds fly below 1,000 feet and the majority of them below 500 feet above ground level, so it is the aircraft flying at low level, taking off and landing, that is the most vulnerable.  In 1965 the Fleet Air Arm implemented a bird control programme at its air stations, and in 1972 the Bird Control Unit moved to its present location at RNAS Yeovilton and began operating using similar methods and in 1975 the operation was extended to include RNAS Culdrose.    The Fleet Air Arm has used falcons as a method of combating bird strikes since 1965.

ARGYLL Reaches Walvis Bay – The Type 23 Frigate ARGYLL the current Atlantic Patrol (South) incumbent has paid a visit to Walvis Bay (Namibia), to enhance relations with the Namibian Navy and support British business interests.   This is the first visit by a British warship in eight years – the last being the Type 42 Destroyer EDINBURGH.      As the ARGYLL sails from Walvis Bay a two week maintenance period will follow to prepare the ship for the second half of her seven months deployment.

Second Island for the QUEEN ELIZABETH – the Aircraft Carrier QUEEN ELIZABETH under construction at Rosyth now sports the second island, another of the giant pieces of the jigsaw that is the Royal Navy’s future carrier.      The second of two islands, the aft one, a some 753 tonne structure will control flight deck operations.       The current fad of providing useless comparators to illustrate statistics moves to a new high with the revelation that the QUEEN ELIZABETH will require 1½ million square metres (over 16 million square feet) of paintwork… which is slightly larger than Hyde Park!

LEDBURY Finds Mine – the Minecountermeasure Vessel LEDBURY found the remains of a German sea mine from World War Two on the very first day of her deployment - the mine was found by during a period of training to ensure the vessel is ready to operate as part of the Standing NATO Mine Countermeasures Group in the Mediterranean.
NORTHUMBERLAND Home – the Type 23 Frigate NORTHUMBERLAND has returned home after a seven month patrol to the Middle East and East Coast of Africa on counter-piracy and counter-narcotic operations.   The NORTHUMBERLAND sailed in October 2012 and the ship clocked up over 45,000 miles, crossed five time zones and visited 11 countries during this deployment.     During the patrol the ship conducted 71 boarding operations,   The NORTHUMBERLAND was relieved by sister ship KENT, the hand over taking place in the Red Sea – the NORTHUMBERLAND will now refit and is expected to return to operations in the region in summer 2014.

Thursday, 9 May 2013

Royal Fleet Auxiliary Deployment – May 2013 – those helpful people at WARSHIP WORLD report that the Royal Fleet Auxiliaries are currently deployed thus :-

Home Waters
East of Suez
Fleet Tankers
Fleet Stores Ships
(Working Up)
Support Tanker
(Working Up)
Station Tankers
Landing Ships
(Working Up)
Aviation Training Ship
Fleet Repair Ship
(Working Up)