Commando Helicopter Force support Ten Tors 2014
TWO Sea King Mk4 helicopters from 845 Naval Air Squadron, Commando Helicopter Force, based in RNAS Yeovilton, with their professional and highly trained pilots, aircrewmen and engineers, and with onboard medical teams, provided 43 (Wessex) Brigade with an invaluable asset that played a vital role in the success of the Ten Tors Expedition 2014.
From a military exercise perspective, Ten Tors provides the Armed Forces with a perfect opportunity to practice life-saving civil contingency responsibilities to enable the military – assisted by the emergency services, as well as the Red Cross and the Dartmoor Search and Rescue Group – to be ready to help when they are called upon during a national emergency.
845NAS gave aviation support with enablement of trooping, Immediate Response Tasking (IRT) for casualty evacuation, winching and carried over 300 passengers on recces for the medical teams, VIP, media and cadet familiarisation flights.
The aircrew were supported by a team of 18 engineers and the Commando Mobile Air Operations Team (MAOT) who provided communications, helicopter and passenger handling support.
Lt Cdr ‘Scouse’ Leach RNR, Aviation Tasker in the Brigade Ops Room said: “The versatility and flexibility of the Junglie aircrew helped provide immediate response CASEVAC cover and routine tasking throughout the whole expedition. Ably assisted by a dedicated aircraft engineering team who helped provide excellent serviceability throughout.”
The two Sea King crews provided approximately 34 hours of ‘readiness state’ for IRT, on one tasking Junglie1 was employed for a team extraction from the bottom of a steep sided valley. The crew identified a suitable landing site in the valley floor and despatched medics and a crewman to attend to the casualty. The crewman waded across the river with a medic to the casualty who was assessed as having a minor injury and the decision was made to extract the whole team due to the weather conditions and the encroaching deadline for the expedition finish time.
Noting that the river was too deep and the current too strong for the casualty to be brought across safely, he got back on board and the highly trained crew setup for a winch extraction. Thanks to the versatility of the Sea King helicopter crewed by an all Navy and Royal Marine Junglie crew, the whole team were winched to safety and returned to Okehampton.
Lt Adam Dean, the 845NAS Detachment Commander said “Providing the Aviation Support to the Ten Tors Challenge 2014 has been a privilege and an absolute pleasure. Seeing the 1000’s of youngsters take on the challenges ofDartmoor, and succeed, has been amazing. The Moor exercised its worst weather this weekend in an attempt to crush the morale of the young contestants so it was humbling to still see so many smiling faces cross the finish line.
Aviation support is only a small part in the joint military and multi-agency co-operation that facilitates the safe and effective delivery of such a challenging but rewarding event for the youngsters and my team and I are proud to have been a part of it.”
The Sea Kings fit this requirement exactly as the aircraft must be able to provide casualty extraction by winch if required and it must have the smallest footprint, in terms of noise and environmental pollution to ensure that Dartmoor National Parkand its residents are preserved and unaffected by the event as much as possible.
RNAS Yeovilton is the closest aviation providing station to the event that operates suitable aircraft. The Commando Helicopter Force squadrons have excellent local area knowledge asDartmooris their backyard and finally, the only way is FLY NAVY!
Ten Tors is one of the biggest multi-agency, tri service civil contingency exercises in Britain and the Commando Helicopter Force is ideally suited to provide aviation support due to the nature of the Ten Tors tasking which requires a helicopter and crew that can operate effectively in the Support Helicopter role and the Search and Rescue role, in both day and night and in all weather conditions. Ten Tours is run by more than nine hundred military personnel - almost all of them Reservists - from all three branches of the Armed Forces, led by the Army's 43 (Wessex) Brigade with its HQ in Tidworth, Wiltshire.
The 54th running of the event this year comes just months after military personnel, including Reservists from the South West , assisted local authorities, the Environment Agency and blue-light services during the floods, carrying out a range of tasks from sandbagging to engineering.
As a military exercise Ten Tors provides the Armed Forces with an invaluable opportunity to practice these life-saving civil contingency responsibilities, to enable the military - assisted by the emergency services, including The British Red Cross and the Dartmoor Search and Rescue Group - to be ready to help when they are called upon during a national emergency.