Sailors from Belgian Navy Pay Their First Visit to HMS Raleigh
Sailors from the Belgian Navy have paid their first visit to HMS Raleigh to practise transferring stores, fuel and other essential supplies from ship-to-ship at sea, ahead of their final assessment.
The group of 15 sailors were coming to the end of their Petty Officer Seaman’s qualifying course.
After months in the classroom and some time at sea, the students carried out a week’s training at the Royal Navy training base in Cornwall, using the replenishment-at-sea (RAS) rig, a static mock-up of two ships that stand side by side.
Chief Petty Officer Ronnie Harding, HMS Raleigh’s RAS rig training officer said:
“During RAS operations ships can operate as close as 30 to 40 metres of each other while underway at sea. Transfers can take place in all weather conditions, day or night, with the ships linked together between heavy tensioned wires, which are used to transfer the loads.
“It’s one of the most hazardous seamanship tasks that we engage in and the beauty of the RAS rig is that we can train people in a safe and secure environment, drilling the procedures in to minimise accidents occurring at sea.
“The Belgian instructors have run their own exercises, but we’ve been here to inject our experience of operations and training to help further their education.”
A bid to accelerate training in the Belgian Navy has resulted in a number of changes to their training regime. Belgian Seamanship Training Officer, Warrant Officer 1 Yves Van Eslander said:
“We don’t have a facility like this is Belgium. I knew of its existence because I’ve been to Plymouth for operational sea training.
“We also work very closely with the Dutch Navy and I know that they are regular users of this RAS rig. It’s a good facility that gives our sailors a practical education rather than just a theoretical one in the classroom.
“It provides step-by-step training with the advantage that we can do things two or three times, applying any pick-up points. When you work with other Navies there are always things that can be learned so being here is very beneficial.”
This group of Belgian sailors began their training in June and will progress to sea next week for their final examination.
Press Release, October 01, 2013; Image: Royal Navy