Yeovilton Supports the Olympics
With a lull between the Olympic Games and the Paralympics, The Royal Naval Air Station at Yeovilton reflects on the support and manpower deployed as part of the Olympic Sailing events in Weymouth Bay and conducting Maritime Policing and Security Operation.
Despite a busy Summer schedule of flying and training, RNAS Yeovilton has risen to the challenge thrown up by the extra work. Maritime Merlin helicopters of 814 Naval Air Squadron, normally based at RNAS Culdrose in Cornwall has become the main focus for Yeovilton’s attention, providing air traffic and hotel support services, including the fuelling and engineering facilities needed to keep the aircraft flying. Similarly personnel from the base have detached to some of the other functioning jobs needed in the Weymouth area. In all 43 Sailors and Airman from the Yeovilton have been seconded to assist at the Sailing events in a variety of roles role’s; Flag Bearers at the medal ceremonies, Boats Coxswains patrolling the security zones and Venue Security forces all playing their part during the 2012 Olympic Games.
The Royal Navy’s main effort has seen HMS Bulwark joined by the Royal Fleet Auxiliary Mounts Bay, P2000 Patrol boats HMS Tracker, HMS Raider, HMS Exploit, HMS Smiter and Royal Marines from 43 Commando Fleet Protection Group and Landing craft from the Royal Marines Assault Squadrons, in addition to Sailors and Marines on the ground providing security at the venues – in all some 900 members of the Naval Service have been involved.
Petty Officer Aircraft Handler Neil Cory, usually 'the Buffer’, responsible for facilities management at Yeovilton, has crewed one of the Ridged Inflatable boats that’s patrolled the waters around the sailing. “We normally start at first light, manning the boats with policemen who’d been drafted in from as far away as Ireland or even Gibraltar. You can be out on the water keeping an eye on other craft for as long as 10 hours at a time. It’s was an amazingly interesting duty and being part of the Olympics has been a tremendous honour”.
Back at RNAS Yeovilton the Air Department, Air Traffic Control and Meteorology Office has been delivering 24/7, covering the whole of the Southwest of England. Supporting the Olympic effort. Lieutenant Commander Jerry Newall the Senior Air Traffic Control Officer who’s had the responsibility for delivering a robust Air Traffic service explains. “It’s been a very demanding period for RNAS Yeovilton ATC. In addition to the normal business of the Air Station, there’s been the extended hours and alert requirement needed to provide essential airspace management services in support of the Games”.
Likewise the Royal Naval Reserves Air Branch has had Leading Airman (Met) Hannah Robinson. She’s been mobilised in the Met Office, writing aviation weather forecasts. “Although its business as usual, its great to be back in the Met Office helping to fulfil the extra commitments during the Olympic period, and doing our bit for Team GB”.
With the Main Olympic events now over the short break in the programme has allowed many of the personnel from RNAS Yeovilton take leave before the Paralympics kick in for their moment in the spotlight and a chance for even more 'Team GB’ success.