UK: Sailors from HMS Illustrious Hone Disaster Relief Skills

Sailors from HMS Illustrious Hone Disaster Relief Skills

A sailor from HMS Illustrious dons a hard hat to begin searching a collapsed building in the ill-starred Devonshire village of Bull Point after a hurricane tore through and caused mayhem.

Some 80 members of the carrier’s ship’s company were sent ashore, using the helicopter assault ship’s sea boats and a Merlin from 820 Naval Air Squadron to offer assistance as Lusty was thrown into a ‘disaster exercise’ – a staple meal for any ship undergoing Operational Sea Training off Plymouth.

Given the number of times Royal Navy and RFA personnel are called upon to assist in the wake of natural disasters – notably hurricanes in the Caribbean, but also the 2004 Boxing Day tsunami in the Indian Ocean, the Haiti earthquake early last year – all deployed ships carry relief and their sailors are expected to be able to provide basic assistance.

That entails sorting out power and other utilities, providing food, searching buildings, offering medical aid, and generally helping to restore a sense of normality – as well as dealing with a barrage of questions from the media.

A series of buildings at Bull Point, opposite Devonport Naval Base, features various trials and tribulations for sailors to overcome – a car crashed in a river, power lines down, plenty of injured people (courtesy of local volunteers), damaged buildings, and a raging inferno for a fire party to put out.

“The disaster exercise is really important training for the crew of Illustrious and the Flag Officer Sea Training staff made it seem very real indeed,”

said the ship’s Executive Officer, Cdr Matt Harvey, who was in charge of the teams on the ground.

“I have no doubt that the ship’s company are now much better prepared should they be tasked to do this for real in the future.”

Illustrious is approaching the ‘business end’ of her training which is due to conclude with a final assessment on December 8.

Naval Today Staff , November 29, 2011; Image: royalnavy