The Navy’s Great Green Fleet Strikes Back


ABOARD THE USS NIMITZ – As a Royal Australian Navy helicopter lands on the deck of the USS Nimitz on Wednesday, two American destroyers, a cruiser and a fuel ship are steaming alongside the aircraft carrier some 100 miles north of Oahu. The ships in the carrier strike group and the 71 aircraft on the deck of the Nimitz, including fighter jets, helicopters and transports, are all running on a 50-50 mix of petroleum and biofuel derived from algae and used cooking oil. In fact, the Aussie Sikorsky Seahawk is the only military machine except the nuclear-fueled Nimitz not powered by biofuels.

But as Rear Admiral Tim Barrett of the Royal Australian Navy greets U.S. Navy Secretary Ray Mabus, deck workers run a fuel line to the helicopter and began pumping the biofuel blend produced by Solazyme and Dynamic into the Seahawk. Minutes later, Barrett and Mabus sign a statement of cooperation pledging the two nation’s navies to collaborate on biofuels research and deployment.

“This is not just an American project,” says Mabus. “It involves allies, it involves countries just as concerned as we are about energy independence and energy security.”

With Congressional Republicans moving to derail Mabus’ plan to obtain 50% of the Navy’s energy from renewable sources by 2020 as a biofuels folly, the Navy struck back Wednesday with display of force in the first demonstration of its Great Green Fleet during the biannual Rim of the Pacific exercise involving 22 nations.

“This is very much an historic moment,” saysVice Admiral Philip Cullom, the deputy chief of naval operations for fleet readiness and logistics, told a group of journalists brought aboard the Nimitz on the first biofueled transport plane, a C-2 Greyhound, to land on an aircraft carrier. “We’re moving forward and we’re not going to let up. We can’t do nothing. Let’s do this.”

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Says Richard Kamin, a civilian Navy employee who led the effort to certify biofuels for military use: “We’re done testing. This is the first time biofuels are being used in actual operations.”

The Navy aims to deploy a permanent green strike force in 2016.

As Mabus, top Navy brass and representatives from the airline and biofuels industries watched from a balcony above the flight deck, six biofueled F/A-18 Hornets screamed off the Nimitz on a sortie and conducted an in-fight refueling demo. Earlier, a biofueled E-2C Hawkeye, part of the Nimitz’s Carrier Airborne Early Warning Squadron, launched to monitor air traffic as biofueled helicopters shuttled Navy officers to other ships in the fleet.

“The military has done a lot of things that starts a tidal wave throughout our culture and I think this is one of those things,” says Lt. Commander Jason Fox, 35, a Hawkeye pilot.

The 900,000 gallons of the biofuel blend used during the Great Green Fleet demo cost about $13 million – four times that cost of petroleum. That has outraged some Congressional Republicans, a few Democrats, and subcommittees in the House and Senate have voted to bar the Navy from buying any fuel that costs more than oil. That would sink the Great Green Fleet as biofuels are unlikely to go into mass production and become cost competitive without a market that would be created by the military or industries like aviation.

But whether the nascent biofuels industry can scale up to provide the nearly 340 million gallons of fuel the Navy needs annually at a price it can afford is the big unknown.

“If you look at the reasons we’re doing it, we’re not doing it to be faddish, we’re not doing it to be green, we’re not doing it for any other reason except it takes care of a military vulnerability that we have,” Mabus says at a news conference in the Nimitz’s hanger, noting that the Navy got stuck with a billion-dollar bill in May because of rising oil prices. “We simply have to figure out a way to get American made homegrown fuel that is stable in price, that is competitive with oil that we can use to compete with oil. If we don’t we’re still too vulnerable.”

Mabus notes that biofuel prices have fallen dramatically since the Navy began the renewable energy program in 2009. But he says, “We’re not going to buy large amounts of any kind of fuel until it’s cost competitive.”

A fighter jet screamed by and interrupted Mabus’ speech.

“You just heard biofuels,” he says.

Below is a video of a biofueled F/A-18 fighter taking off from the Nimitz.

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Chinese landing ship spotted

Chinese landing ship spotted 
By Jaime Laude (The Philippine Star) Updated July 20, 2012 12:00 AM Comments (58) View comments


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Photo taken by Philippine Navy Western Command’s Islander Surveillance Plane 314 shows Yuting Class Chinese landing ship moored near Zamora Reef off Philippine occupied Pag-Asa Island.
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MANILA, Philippines – A Navy surveillance plane monitoring the activities of Chinese fishing vessels in the disputed Spratly Islands has spotted a Chinese landing ship in Subi Reef (Zamora Reef), an area only 12 nautical miles from the Philippine-occupied Pag-asa Island.

The Chinese troop and logistics ship, a Yuting class with bow No. 934, is armed with three heavy guns, built-in cranes, and a helipad.

The vessel was photographed by a Navy surveillance plane deployed by the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) Western Command (Wescom) in Palawan last Tuesday.

The Chinese ship is anchored at the Chinese-occupied Subi Reef, close to Pag-asa Island, which is occupied by Filipinotroops and civilians and is part of the municipality of Kalayaan in Palawan.

“We are doing our best with what we have,” Wescom spokesman Lt. Col. Niel Estrella said of their surveillance and monitoring operations on the current security development in the Spratlys.

Estrella said that monitoring operations yesterday were hampered by bad weather in the area.

Wescom commander Lt. Gen. Juancho Sabban had intensified air and maritime patrols in the disputed region in response to the recent grounding of a Chinese frigate within the waters of Palawan, particularly in the vicinity of Hasa-Hasa Shoal (Half Moon Shoal), followed by China’s launching of one of the biggest fishing expeditions in the disputed region.

Sabban said that Hasa-Hasa Shoal is part of Palawan waters and the area is outside of the disputed Spratlys.

Aside from China’s landing ship near the already heavily fortified Subi Reef, Wescom is currently monitoring the activities of the Chinese fishing fleet in Kagitingan Reef (Fiery Cross Reef).

Latest reports said 29 Chinese fishing vessels, a Chinese maritime surveillance ship, and a merchant vessel were photographed anchored at Kagitingan Reef.

In nearby Union Reef, which is occupied by Vietnamese forces, a Wescom surveillance plane also monitored a lone Vietnamese fishing boat near dozens of Chinese fishing vessels in the area.

Union Reef as well as other islets and reefs in the area are within the hexagon area composed of 95 islands, cays, shoals and reefs under Kalayaan town based in Pag-asa Island, as per Presidential Decree 1596 issued by the late President Ferdinand Marcos, that led to the creation of an island municipality in the region.

AFP spokesman Col. Arnulfo Marcelo Burgos has admitted that in the absence of a credible territorial capability, the military’s action is confined only to monitoring the Chinese aggressive behavior in the contested waters in the West Philippine Sea.

He said the civilian leadership is addressing the rest of the territorial disputes in the West Philippine Sea.


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Asylum seeker boats are destroyed off Christmas Island.

asylum boat

Asylum seeker boats are destroyed off Christmas Island. Pictures: Stephen Cooper Source: The Daily Telegraph

IT is a routine process performed more and more often by the Royal Australian Navy – empty asylum seeker boats being towed back out to sea and set alight.

Yesterday The Daily Telegraph got a rare look as two boats – which this week carried more than 100 asylum seekers across the ocean – were sent to a watery grave.

One boat had been at sea for three weeks transporting 51 Sri Lankans, the other carried 65 people from Indonesia.

Both vessels smouldered for several hours before sinking about 20 nautical miles off Christmas Island.

The burnings came as another asylum boat arrived at Christmas Island yesterday morning. A RAAF aircraft spotted the vessel, which was intercepted by HMAS Childers on Wednesday night. The 25 men on board, from Sri Lanka, were brought ashore at Flying Fish Cove just after 10am.

It was the eighth boat to arrive in Australian waters in just four days, with 913 people arriving this month.

The latest boat was tied up at a mooring off Christmas Island and is also likely to be burned. Asylum boats are routinely towed into deep water by navy ships, or moved under their own steam, before Customs removes any fuel and sets them alight.

Refugee advocate Ian Rintoul claimed burning asylum boats encouraged people smugglers to send only the most unseaworthy vessels to Australia: “Burning asylum seeker boats is one of the Australian government policies which makes boat travel more dangerous. There’s a disincentive created by the process of burning the boats over getting the best possible boats for the journey.”

A Customs spokeswoman said unseaworthy vessels were destroyed by re due to quarantine risks. She said burning the boats was legal under the Customs Act and it was more economical than repairing them.

“The preferred method of destruction for irregular entry vessels is burning at sea for environmental, quarantine and safety reasons,” she said.

“Burning is more likely to result in the hull sinking in one large piece, preventing the risk of collision by shipping, or damage to the environment.

“Before burning, all objects on board the vessel that will not burn or sink are removed, along with fuels and vapours.”

Meanwhile, a small group of Sri Lankan asylum seekers from two vessels rescued near the Cocos Islands earlier this week will be own the 900km to Christmas Island on two charter ights in coming days.

USS Vandegrift, Sampson, Waesche Arrive Singapore for CARAT 2012

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120715-N-PK322-065 SINGAPORE – The USS Vandergrift (FFG-48) arrives at Changi Naval Base in Singapore to participate in Cooperation Afloat Readiness and Training (CARAT) Singapore 2012. CARAT is a series of bilateral military exercises between the U.S. Navy and the armed forces of Bangladesh, Brunei, Cambodia, Indonesia, Malaysia, the Philippines, Singapore, and Thailand. Sampson joins the exercise for the first time. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 1st Class Gerardo Jimenez/Released) 
Vandegrift, Sampson, Waesche Arrive Singapore for CARAT 2012 
By Mass Communication Specialist 1st Class (SW/AW) N. Ross Taylor, Commander Task Group 73.1 Public Affairs 
SINGAPORE – The Oliver Hazard Perry-class guided-missile frigate USS Vandegrift (FFG 48), the Arleigh Burke-class guided-missile destroyer USS Sampson (DDG 102) and the U.S. Coast Guard Legend-class national security cutter USCGC Waesche (WMSL 751) arrived in Singapore. 

The three ships will participate in exercise Cooperation Afloat Readiness and Training (CARAT) Singapore 2012. 

Captain Dave Welch commands Task Group 73.1 for the second consecutive year. “It is always a pleasure to visit Singapore and exercise with the Singapore Armed Forces,” Welch said. “The Republic of Singapore Navy is filled with absolute professionals, and both navies gain great training and readiness benefit from this key interaction.” 

CARAT is a series of bilateral, flexible military exercises designed to enhance regional cooperation, promote understanding and build trust between participating military forces. Its scenarios are tailored to meet evolving threats like counter-piracy and maritime interception operations, in addition to providing a venue to share the latest humanitarian assistance and disaster relief practices. 

“I feel fortunate to be able to take part in the experience that exercise CARAT provides,” said Vandegrift Commanding Officer, Cmdr. Brandon Bryan. “This is a wonderful opportunity for our two navies to come together and work towards strengthening our relationships and increasing our ability to operate together, both ashore and at sea. I truly look forward to all that we will learn from each other over the next two weeks,” he said. 

CARAT Singapore is a 12-day exchange and training event that includes maritime security exercises, such as practical visit, board, search seizure (VBSS) evolutions, live-fire gunnery exercises, military operations symposiums and professional aviation exchanges. There will also be events to strengthen relationships within the local community, including a sports day, culinary exchanges and community service projects. 

According to CTG 73.1 CARAT Officer, Lt. Dan Follett, the operational complexity of CARAT Singapore 2012 will offer new challenges to all participants involved. 

“I believe that CARAT Singapore 2012 will be a very dynamic exercise,” said Follett. “The tactical intricacy of this year’s exercise includes air defense and anti-submarine warfare events that will challenge the participants from both the RSN [Republic of Singapore Navy] and USN in both the shore and sea phases.” 

This is the 18th consecutive year for CARAT and Singapore is one of the original four participating nations. There are more than 1,500 personnel, 10 ships and 24 aircraft participating in CARAT Singapore 2012. 

Missile Firing Success for Royal New Zealand Navy Warship

Missile Firing Success for Royal New Zealand Navy Warship

Press Release – New Zealand Defence Force

“Command Approved, Sea Sparrow,” and with that the warship HMNZS TE KAHA let fly a NATO Sea Sparrow Missile in a live practice firing, achieving the successful destruction of a towed air ‘enemy’ target.20 July 2012

Missile Firing Success for Royal New Zealand Navy Warship

“Command Approved, Sea Sparrow,” and with that the warship HMNZS TE KAHA let fly a NATO Sea Sparrow Missile in a live practice firing, achieving the successful destruction of a towed air ‘enemy’ target.

The firing of a live Sea Sparrow missile occurred this week as part of the ship’s participation in exercise RIMPAC 2012 on the United States Navy’s Pacific Missile Range Facility north of Hawaii.

The Commanding Officer of HMNZS TE KAHA, Commander Jon Beadsmore was thrilled with the successful event.

“Live firings are an important part of testing the capability of our ships. They ensure a full ‘end-to-end’ check of the ship’s systems is conducted, which extends from maintenance of the ship’s radar and missile guidance systems through to the actual missile launch, destruction of the target and analysis of the flight data.”

The practice missile is equipped with an inert payload that allows data to be recorded from the firing to allow an analysis of the effectiveness of the missile and its guidance system.

“The instant I gave approval to fire was one of the easiest decisions of my life. I have a great team of 170 highly skilled professional war fighters working for me who are well trained, highly motivated and fully supported by a host of uniformed and civilian personnel ashore. If it has been properly forged, honed and aimed. The tip of the arrow has the easiest job.”

A significant component of the firing is the analysis of the training and competencies of all those personnel involved which includes embarkation, storage, preparation, launch and provision of data to the missile needed to complete a successful engagement. A frigate conducts one or two live firings of its weapons systems every two years and this particular weapon cost $778k.

Currently the ship is enjoying the opportunity to take part in the biggest maritime military exercise in the world; RIMPAC 12. Based out of the Hawaiian Islands, the ship is ‘plugged into’ an organisation of 22 countries, a total of 25,000 personnel, 42 ships, six submarines, and over 200 aircraft. TE KAHA is joined by the RNZN Operational Dive Team, Mine Counter Measures Team, a Rifle Platoon from 1 RNZIR, a P3K maritime patrol aircraft (with two crews) and personnel working ashore and afloat in a number of Headquarters.

Link to the video footage of the missile firing: http://youtu.be/I46i7TV9g28

ENDS

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Britain begins Olympics airspace security

Britain begins Olympics airspace security

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Royal Navy Helicopter Carrier HMS Ocean heads towards the Canary Wharf business district in London on its way to Greenwich as part of ongoing security peparations ahead of the London Olympics in July on May 4, 2012. The British Armed forces are staging various security tests around London for every eventuality. UPI/Hugo Philpott 

License photo
Published: July 17, 2012 at 6:30 AM

LONDON, July 17 (UPI) — British military and civilian authorities have imposed airspace restrictions over London and southeastern England ahead of the 2012 Summer Olympics.

The Ministry of Defense said Saturday the restrictions were put into force to “ensure a safe and secure London 2012 Olympic Games.”

“Equipment and personnel from the Royal Navy, Army and Royal Air Force are in place to enforce the restrictions and provide enhanced protection for the period the temporary restrictions are in force,” the ministry said in a release.

As part of the enhanced security efforts for the July 27-Aug. 12 Games, Britain has deployed Typhoon jets to the British air force base in Northolt, England, as well as readying Puma helicopters staffed with air force sniper teams to intercept unauthorized aircraft.

The helicopters were deployed last week to the Ilford Territorial Army Center.

Also as part of the preparations, army Rapier and Starstreak ground-based air defense systems have been installed at six sites in London while navy Sea King helicopters were sent to Northolt.

In addition, the British navy’s largest ship — the helicopter carrier HMS Ocean — returned to London to serve as a base for helicopter operations for the Olympics.

Phil Roberts, assistant director of airspace policy at Britain’s Civil Aviation Authority, said the agency has worked with the military and civilian air traffic controllers to get word of the restrictions out to pilots.

“The government’s airspace security restrictions will primarily affect private pilots so, together with pilot associations and other bodies, we’ve been undertaking a significant program to alert pilots to how they need to comply and keep flying during the Games,” he said.

The consequences of violating the airspace restricts restrictions could be lethal, warned Air Vice Marshal Stuart Atha, commander of Olympics Air Security.

He told the BBC Friday a plane could be shot down in a “worst-case scenario,” adding “the highest level of government” would make the call on such a decision.

“We are planning on a terrorist threat environment that is severe … we are not suggesting that there is any particular threat or risk to the Games that we know about,” a British Home Office spokesman said.

The BBC reported the pilots of light aircraft would be allowed to fly over London under the restrictions but only if they had gone through a series of security procedures.

The airspace security moves came in addition to the 17,000 troops already assigned to the games. The game’s organizers said last week they were looking into the possibility of more troops to help provide security.

The Daily Telegraph reported another 3,500 service members were dispatched to London last week after a private security contractor came up short in manpower requirements. Company officials admitted they ran into trouble finding enough qualified applicants.

Although the contractor, GS4, will remain on the job despite the short staff, the British military has contingency plans in place to send more people to the Olympics, the newspaper said.

Topics: 2012 Olympics 

Buck’s boy in Bedford

Click here to find out more!
Published: 17/07/2012 07:00 – Updated: 14/07/2012 12:36

Bedford bag Buck’s boy

BY MARC BAZELEY

Eruera Shelford

Eruera Shelford

 

Any rugby player carrying the surname Shelford is going to have a certain amount of expectation placed upon them – particularly if you happen to be the son of one of the most revered No.8s ever to wear the famous All Black shirt.

Eruera Shelford, whose father Wayne played 22 tests for New Zealand and is still held in high esteem back home, is determined to make his own mark on the game though after signing for Bedford Athletic ahead of the new season.

Having initially sought out Bedford Blues after moving over here with his girlfriend, the 27- year-old was recommended to the Ath and is now set to be featuring for them in their 2012/13 Midlands One East campaign.

“He just wants to play rugby and he just wants to be himself,” said Athletic director of rugby Val Jones. “He’s a really nice lad. He has come over to be with his girlfriend, to try and make a life for himself, and he just wants to enjoy playing rugby.

“He’s been training with us since the start of pre-season training back in June and he gets on really well with all of the lads. We have a great camaraderie here anyway and he has settled in quickly.”

Shelford senior enjoyed a memorable two-year stint just down the A428 with Northampton Saints between 1991 and 1993.

This was in the closing stages of a decorated playing career, while these are still relatively early days for Buck the Younger.

Perhaps surprisingly, given his father’s background, his first sporting love was not rugby union but athletics and basketball. Indeed, Shelford only began playing the sport four years ago.

Since then he has represented North Shore – the Devenport club where Wayne began his career – along with the Combined Services, who he played for during his time serving with the Royal New Zealand Navy.

Jones envisages Shelford junior playing in the back row for the Ath, mainly as a blindside flanker or even as a No.8. And despite being somewhat of an unknown quantity, the Blues will be keeping tabs on his progress.

He said: “We’re not really sure how good he is at the moment, but if he turns out to be a good player then that can only benefit us.

“Because of his inexperience, he’s probably not ready for Championship rugby yet. But the Blues are going to be keeping an eye on him and if he does well for us then he might not be here for long.”

Only time will tell whether Shelford can make it to that level, as Mouritz Botha did, and unfortunately he may always be burdened by comparisons to his famous parent. Whatever happens though, these are exciting times for both him and his new club.

 

BEDFORD Athletic players and committee members, along with the RFU, will be at the River Festival in Russell Park next Saturday and Sunday from 10am-6pm.

Former Royal New Zealand Navy physical education instructor has green fingers

Greens grower flourishing

‘Parsley, sage, rosemary’ and lettuces

KAT PICKFORD

Last updated 11:30 18/07/2012
   
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Martyn Birch

EMMA ALLEN

Green machine: Thymebank owner Martyn Birch grows up to 20,000 lettuces a week at his hydroponic garden near Blenheim.

Marlborough hydroponic lettuce operation Thymebank has expanded its lettuce-growing capacity with the addition of two greenhouses.

Owner Martyn Birch said the increased capacity would enable Thymebank to meet the growing needs of Marlborough and continue to expand its market throughout the country.

The 600-square-metre addition takes Thymebank’s total hydroponic area to 6000sqm, set on 2.9 hectares on Hammerichs Rd near Blenheim.

The company produces up to 20,000 lettuces a week for supermarkets and restaurants in Marlborough, which take 35 per cent of the produce, and Dunedin, Wellington and Palmerston North.

“To secure customers you have to be able to supply year round, not just in summer when everything is growing well,” Mr Birch said.

“We actively seek customers during winter when every square inch of growing space is full as possible.”

In summer, production dropped back to about 60 per cent of capacity, because everything grew bigger and matured in half the time it took in winter.

This gave them the opportunity to spread plant turnover and keep up to date with maintenance, he said.

Mr Birch hires 10 staff and will be looking at taking on more as production increases.

Since taking over Thymebank in 2005, the former Royal New Zealand Navy physical education instructor said there had been “continual growth” in demand for a good quality, year-round supply of lettuce, salad greens and herbs.

The popularity of reality TV shows such as MasterChef and an increase of people seeking healthy diets had fuelled that demand, he said.

“We’ve expanded by about 50 per cent in the seven years since I took over. We saw the growth in the industry, the population is growing and people always need to eat.”

To grow the same number of lettuces outside would require 20 hectares of land and 20 times the amount of water, making hydroponics an environmentally friendly option, he said.

Eyes of the Tigers join Olympic security shield

News

Eyes of the Tigers join Olympic security shield
19 July 2012

The latest Naval hardware – Merlin helicopters of 814 Naval Air Squadron – has flown into Yeovilton to join the massive Olympic security mission.

The squadron will carry out surveillance of shipping off Weymouth, venue for sailing events – just one strand of a huge Olympic effort by 2,600 sailors and Royal Marines.

Pictures: PO(Phot) Gaz Armes, Mobile News Team

THE eyes of the Tigers are now on watch over the Channel as helicopters from 814 Naval Air Squadron join the massive security effort shielding the Olympics.

Merlins from the Culdrose-based squadron – known throughout the Fleet Air Arm as the Tigers – have decamped from Cornwall to RNAS Yeovilton in Somerset for the duration of the Olympic and Paralympic Games.

From there it’s just ten minutes’ flying time to Weymouth Bay, where the nation’s flagship HMS Bulwark is serving as the floating command centre for the police-military-civilian effort protecting sailing events in Dorset.

Although the Merlin was designed a submarine hunter, in the decade since the helicopter entered service it’s evolved into all-purpose aircraft and has proved particularly adept at tracking pirates and drug traffickers over the Indian Ocean, operating from the back of Royal Navy frigates.

LET(WE) Sergeant checks the live video feed from a Merlin’s hi-tech WESCAM camera beamed back to Bulwark’s Operations Room

HMS Bulwark conducted a set of WESCAM trials prior to the start of the Olympic Games. WESCAM provides a live video feed from a Royal Navy Merlin Helicopter to the Operations Room on board HMS Bulwark. This assists in the security support that HMS Bulwark is providing in the Portland and Weymouth Area during the Olympic Games.

And that latter maritime security mission makes 814 the ideal choice for keeping watch on seafarers off Weymouth from now until mid-September.

The Tigers have been preparing for their Olympics role for many months, and have already taken part in a series of demanding training missions, working alongside other Royal Navy and Royal Marine units, and other Government agencies.

In addition to conducting maritime surveillance in the Weymouth Bay area, 814 NAS crews will be on call to respond to any incident as directed by Maritime Force Commander Dorset – Bulwark’s Commanding Officer Capt Alex Burton.

“A lot of hard work has gone on behind the scenes by both my engineers and aircrew over many months to ensure aircraft and flying crews are ready for Operation Olympics,” said Cdr Christopher Stock, 814’s Commanding Officer.

“The squadron has been liaising very closely with the Police and other agencies, and conducted a comprehensive and dedicated work-up package so that the Flying Tigers can contribute to a safe and secure Olympic and Paralympic Games.”

His helicopters will operate daily out of Yeovilton, flying to and from HMS Bulwark which is positioned in Weymouth Bay close to the Olympic Sailing Regatta. The move from Culdrose enables them to utilise the facilities available at the Somerset base and be closer to their operating areas.

Handlers on Bulwark attend to one of the Flying Tigers’ ‘cabs’ on the flight deck of the assault ship

As well as being the hub for 814, Yeovilton has committed five of its own Lynx helicopters from 815 NAS to the Olympic effort, basing them on HMS Ocean which arrived in Greenwich last Friday to serve as a ‘helipad’ for military aircraft throughout the Games a well as a logistics and support base for the Olympic security effort in London, not least Royal Marines of 539 Assault Squadron and their fast raiding craft.

In all, some 17,000 military personnel are committed to the Olympic and Paralympic events – 2,600 each from the Navy and RAF, 11,800 from the Army.

Around 1,000 sailors and Royal Marines are deployed in the capital providing security at venues, in addition to more than 550 personnel on Ocean.

Also in the capital there are 53 air and ground crew from 854 NAS and their Sea King Mk7 Airborne Surveillance and Control, the Royal Navy’s input to the aerial shield for the Games which involves some 1,600 Service personnel in all.

In Weymouth, Bulwark is being joined by RFA Mounts Bay, P2000 patrol boats, Royal Marines of 4 Assault Squadron with their landing craft, and sailors on the ground providing security at the Olympic venues – some 900 members of the Naval Service in all.

There are also around 250 sailors and commandos at various other Olympic venues and training hubs around the UK.

And on the ceremonial front 120 Senior Servicemen and women are acting as flag raisers at victory ceremonies, while the Royal Marines Band will be performing at numerous venues throughout the spectacular.

Eyes of the Tigers join Olympic security shield

News

Eyes of the Tigers join Olympic security shield
19 July 2012

The latest Naval hardware – Merlin helicopters of 814 Naval Air Squadron – has flown into Yeovilton to join the massive Olympic security mission.

The squadron will carry out surveillance of shipping off Weymouth, venue for sailing events – just one strand of a huge Olympic effort by 2,600 sailors and Royal Marines.

Pictures: PO(Phot) Gaz Armes, Mobile News Team

THE eyes of the Tigers are now on watch over the Channel as helicopters from 814 Naval Air Squadron join the massive security effort shielding the Olympics.

Merlins from the Culdrose-based squadron – known throughout the Fleet Air Arm as the Tigers – have decamped from Cornwall to RNAS Yeovilton in Somerset for the duration of the Olympic and Paralympic Games.

From there it’s just ten minutes’ flying time to Weymouth Bay, where the nation’s flagship HMS Bulwark is serving as the floating command centre for the police-military-civilian effort protecting sailing events in Dorset.

Although the Merlin was designed a submarine hunter, in the decade since the helicopter entered service it’s evolved into all-purpose aircraft and has proved particularly adept at tracking pirates and drug traffickers over the Indian Ocean, operating from the back of Royal Navy frigates.

LET(WE) Sergeant checks the live video feed from a Merlin’s hi-tech WESCAM camera beamed back to Bulwark’s Operations Room

HMS Bulwark conducted a set of WESCAM trials prior to the start of the Olympic Games. WESCAM provides a live video feed from a Royal Navy Merlin Helicopter to the Operations Room on board HMS Bulwark. This assists in the security support that HMS Bulwark is providing in the Portland and Weymouth Area during the Olympic Games.

And that latter maritime security mission makes 814 the ideal choice for keeping watch on seafarers off Weymouth from now until mid-September.

The Tigers have been preparing for their Olympics role for many months, and have already taken part in a series of demanding training missions, working alongside other Royal Navy and Royal Marine units, and other Government agencies.

In addition to conducting maritime surveillance in the Weymouth Bay area, 814 NAS crews will be on call to respond to any incident as directed by Maritime Force Commander Dorset – Bulwark’s Commanding Officer Capt Alex Burton.

“A lot of hard work has gone on behind the scenes by both my engineers and aircrew over many months to ensure aircraft and flying crews are ready for Operation Olympics,” said Cdr Christopher Stock, 814’s Commanding Officer.

“The squadron has been liaising very closely with the Police and other agencies, and conducted a comprehensive and dedicated work-up package so that the Flying Tigers can contribute to a safe and secure Olympic and Paralympic Games.”

His helicopters will operate daily out of Yeovilton, flying to and from HMS Bulwark which is positioned in Weymouth Bay close to the Olympic Sailing Regatta. The move from Culdrose enables them to utilise the facilities available at the Somerset base and be closer to their operating areas.

Handlers on Bulwark attend to one of the Flying Tigers’ ‘cabs’ on the flight deck of the assault ship

As well as being the hub for 814, Yeovilton has committed five of its own Lynx helicopters from 815 NAS to the Olympic effort, basing them on HMS Ocean which arrived in Greenwich last Friday to serve as a ‘helipad’ for military aircraft throughout the Games a well as a logistics and support base for the Olympic security effort in London, not least Royal Marines of 539 Assault Squadron and their fast raiding craft.

In all, some 17,000 military personnel are committed to the Olympic and Paralympic events – 2,600 each from the Navy and RAF, 11,800 from the Army.

Around 1,000 sailors and Royal Marines are deployed in the capital providing security at venues, in addition to more than 550 personnel on Ocean.

Also in the capital there are 53 air and ground crew from 854 NAS and their Sea King Mk7 Airborne Surveillance and Control, the Royal Navy’s input to the aerial shield for the Games which involves some 1,600 Service personnel in all.

In Weymouth, Bulwark is being joined by RFA Mounts Bay, P2000 patrol boats, Royal Marines of 4 Assault Squadron with their landing craft, and sailors on the ground providing security at the Olympic venues – some 900 members of the Naval Service in all.

There are also around 250 sailors and commandos at various other Olympic venues and training hubs around the UK.

And on the ceremonial front 120 Senior Servicemen and women are acting as flag raisers at victory ceremonies, while the Royal Marines Band will be performing at numerous venues throughout the spectacular.