Royal Omani Navy FAA Experience
Building on a close relationship between the Royal Navy of Oman, RNO and the Fleet Air Arm, a team of top instructors from Yeovilton and Culdrose deployed to Oman to validate and endorse the RNO’s Flight deck aviation operational capability.
The Air Traffic Controllers of the Royal Naval School of Aircraft Control and Aircraft Handlers of the School of Flight deck Operations took the opportunity to develop their knowledge of the Omani Navy.
“The visit came about after we'd run a course last September for the Omani Navy at Yeovilton. We trained four officers in Aircraft Control procedures and surface warfare tactics. The chance to validate them and get to know how they work will help us strengthen future courses”. Said Warrant Officer Andy Weston, Team leader and Second in Command of the RNSAC at Yeovilton.
With a busy schedule, the team arrived in Muscat to be greeted by Lieutenant Commander Kevin Meeds RN, on exchange with the Royal Navy of Oman. Over an Omani weekend, from Wednesday to Friday they briefed on the cultural differences and the programme during their stay. This was followed by a short acclimatisation with the Omani climate and time to take in the sights of Muscat and all it had to offer. Moving an hour and a half to the North West they travelled along the coast to the Royal Omani Naval Academy Fleet Warfare School (FWS), at Wudham Naval Base. Here they carried out the Annual Standards phase of the visit, utilising the FWS’s new simulator and class rooms. Despite the obvious language differences, all passed with little difficulty, the students achieving satisfactory passes.
During their stay at Wudham the team were accommodated in the Wakhels mess, this mess is habited by Ex-UK Service personnel, Royal Naval Senior Rates attached to the Omani navy on foreign loan service and at times European civilian contractors working at the base. The welcome was both warm (like the weather) and friendly. The mess was basic and rustic and provided certain home from home comforts and a refreshing drink at the end of the day. But it was at a nearby hotel, which was a short drive from the base, where they gained further opportunities to soak up more Omani culture and the daily fly pass from one of the Culdrose based Royal Navy Merlin aircraft operating from Wilayat of Al Mussanah down the coast.
With the second week the team embarked onboard the RNOV Nasr Al Bahr, an Amphibious landing ship capable of taking a Sea King, for the validation of the four Omani officers that attended RNSAC the previous year. There were two other streams of training taking place concurrently, the Omani Air Forces 15 Squadron conducting Deck Landing practice and the SFDO validations of Omani Flight Deck Officers. After the usual pleasantries the ship sailed and with much anticipation the live training phase commenced with a Super Lynx of 15 Sqn joining from ashore.
Flying day and night sorties allowed a full range of operations to be carried out and emergencies to be practised. Putting the Omani’s through their paces. The remainder of the week continued in the same vain with all the student’s achieving the required standard and successfully achieving their full Helicopter Controllers qualification.
The week culminated with a wash up with Lieutenant Commander Meeds before a handing over of gifts with the Commander of the Naval Academy, which saw the Heron crest somewhat dwarfed by the plaque presented in return. Petty Officer John Shaw from the RNSAC was impressed with the Omani Sailors, “The Oman was an exciting experience. It was very satisfying to see my students and put into demonstrate what they'd learnt on their Ship and in their environment. It confirms to me how other nations value the training provided by the Royal Navy.”
Back row left to right PO Smudge Smith, PO Allan Pickersgill, WO Carl Cox LFS RNO (FDO liaison), PO Lee Fitzgerald and PO John Shaw.
Front row Lt Cdr Kevin Meeds LFS RNO, Deputy Commandant Sultan Qaboos Naval Academy and WO Andy Weston.