UK: Sailors from Frigate HMS Richmond Take on Disaster Relief Exercise

Sailors from Frigate HMS Richmond Take on Disaster Relief Exercise

Sailors from frigate HMS Richmond have been put through their paces with a disaster relief exercise under the watchful eye of Flag Officer Sea Training in Devonport.

HMS Richmond has spent the last five weeks conducting Basic Operational Sea Training (BOST) under the expert instruction of the Flag Officer Sea Training (FOST) organisation based in Devonport.

The training has seen the ship exercise both its war-fighting role and equipment capabilities, as well as the provision of disaster relief to a stricken area following the impact of a natural disaster.

The Disaster Relief Exercise, or DISTEX, is actually conducted off Bull Point near Devonport where a collection of disused buildings are used to recreate a village community.  The ‘village’ scenario comes complete with a police station, private dwellings, a hospital and even a petrol station.  Local actors are drafted in to play the role of survivors, some of whom are made up with fake (but realistic) injuries setting the scene for a mini natural disaster.

The relief effort from HMS Richmond was set up on 4 December in conjunction with pseudo civilian authorities to help deliver humanitarian assistance to the villagers.

The ship is packed with state of the art communications, engineering support facilities and damage control equipment which make it the ideal platform to coordinate and plan this kind of relief effort.  Over 80 highly trained and equipped sailors were landed in Bull Point to help stabilise the situation, save life and lessen the suffering of the villagers who were without shelter, food and clean drinking water.  Specialist search and rescue teams were also deployed from the ship by sea and air using the ship’s boats and helicopter to find and treat the survivors.

Commander Robert G Pedre, HMS Richmond’s Commanding Officer, said:

“DISTEX is an excellent vehicle to ensure HMS Richmond’s readiness to respond to a real natural disaster and ably demonstrates the inherent versatility of a modern warship.  The Royal Navy is highly trained to deal with this type of incident; my ship’s Company has the expertise, equipment and medical facilities to make a real difference should they be called upon to assist in a crisis situation.”  

During their effort in Bull Point, the sailors of HMS Richmond came to the aid of 16 ‘survivors’ from the ordeal and restored vital services such as water and electricity so that the villagers could start to rebuild their community.   Throughout the day a huge amount was learnt by the ship’s company about conducting a disaster relief operation; skills that can be used to equal effect both at home and abroad.

HMS Richmond will complete her BOST programme in two weeks before returning to Portsmouth for Christmas and New Year.  The ship is expected to deploy next year.

Naval Today Staff, December 17, 2012; Image: Royal Navy

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