CINC fleet receives warm reception in the arctic
Commander in Chief Fleet Admiral George Zambellas DSC visited Naval personel some 200 miles inside the Arctic Circle at the Joint Helicopter Command (JHC) training base in Bardufoss, Norway (18th to 20th Feb).
The base, known as “Clockwork JHC,” provides survival and operational training and support facilities that enable aviation capable units to survive, operate and fight in extreme cold weather environments.
As well as receiving briefs on and touring the Clockwork training facilities, Admiral Zambellas was able to visit the surrounding Bardufoss area. The inhospitable terrain, extreme weather conditions and temperatures as low as minus 35 makes Bardufoss the ideal location for cold weather warfare training.
During his visit the Admiral met some of the 200 strong Naval contingent from Commando Helicopter Force (CHF). The ‘Junglies’, as they are colloquially known, are normally based at the Royal Naval Air Station Yeovilton but are currently deployed to Clockwork to undertaking training and make preparations for Exercise Cold Response which takes place in the northern Norway in mid-March. This Exercise involves 2000 Royal Navy and Royal Marines personnel, the nation’s flagship HMS Bulwark, amongst other UK ships, squadrons and units. These units will operate alongside a dozen other nations and 13000 troops.
Captain Matt Briers Royal Navy, Commanding Officer CHF, was able to show the Admiral first-hand how well his command is prepared for Cold Response when he showed the Commander in Chief around a Forward Operating Base (FOB). The Admiral was able to view various key positions around the FOB, talk to personnel, and even share lunch in the form of Chicken Tikka from an Arctic 24 hour ration pack in the dining room, a ‘lean-to’ survival shelter.
The highlight of the Commander in Chief’s visit was when he took to the skies in a Sea King Mk4, a helicopter pilot himself, he viewed a number of snow landings before taking control of the aircraft for a navigation sortie over the Norwegian mountains.
On completion of his visit Admiral Zambellas said, “Clockwork training at Bardufoss is a jewel in our defence crown. We are training about 700 personal a year in specialist skills, in outstanding facilities, for a very good price.” He further added: “We have land, mountain, air and sea training areas with firing ranges all very close to a major Norwegian airfield. This is exactly what we need to maintain joint skills in a challenging environment.”
Captain Matt Briers Royal Navy, Commanding Officer Commando Helicopter Force said: “I am absolutely delighted that the Commander in Chief has managed to find the time to visit Clockwork JHC in what is a very busy time for him.” He added: “Clockwork is as relevant and as important today as it has always been in are over 40 year association here in Norway. It enables us to prepare our people for operations in Afghanistan and it’s absolutely fundamental to the delivery of littoral manoeuvre for the Royal Navy given the geography and the excellent facilities that exist in the local area. Also in a wider sense it enables our people to go anywhere in the world and operate very complex aircraft in the most challenging of environments. If you can operate in Norway you can operate anywhere.”
Major Dave West Royal Marines, Officer in Command Clockwork said: “We were delighted to host Commander in Chief and to show him the facilities at Bardufoss. He has confirmed his full support for the training that we are conducting here in Norway, both in enhancing and consolidating our Arctic operating procedures and for the force generation for the amphibious exercise Cold Response.”
Lt Adam ‘Spook’ Spike Royal Navy, Clockwork training officer said: It was a pleasure to take the Admiral flying and to demonstrate a variety of the advance flying techniques that we teach front line pilots in this exceptionally challenging environment.”
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