Culdrose crew wow London Boat Show crowds
12:00pm Saturday 26th January 2013 in Helston
A Culdrose air crew wowed the crowds at the London Boat Show this month with a little help from one of their Sea King helicopters.
As part of the show’s opening celebrations on Saturday, January 12 and to help launch the start of a year-long programme of events celebrating the 60th anniversary of Royal Navy helicopter search and rescue, the Cornish team from 771 Naval Air Squadron undertook a simulated rescue in the Royal Docks beside the ExCeL arena.
Hundreds of show visitors flocked to the waterside to witness the spectacle, which is something rarely seen in the heart of the nation’s capital.
The willing volunteer for the dunking in the dock was Lieutenant Jim Carver, who was fully reliant on the skill, professionalism and expertise of his fellow aviators once he was in the freezing water.
Manoeuvring the 9.5 tonne Sea King into place right beside the boat show’s marina complex were pilots Lieutenants Jonny Lynas and Simon Thompson, alongside aircrewman Corporal Damien Barnes who located Jim, got the harness onto him and pulled him clear of the chilly dock.
The crew’s observer, responsible for the accurate navigation and winch operation was Lieutenant Chris Flynn.
This training drill also launched a particularly special year for Royal Navy helicopter search and rescue, which celebrates 60 years of saving lives at sea and on land in 2013.
And the same crew was back on Sunday to carry out another rescue drill before returning to Cornwall.
Keeping a watchful eye from the dockside throughout, 771’s commanding officer, Lieutenant Commander Martin Shepherd said: “My team here has done a great job with these two simulated rescues, which is amply illustrated not only by the thoroughly appreciative crowds which turned out dockside on both days, but also by the comments I received later on.
“It has been a rare opportunity for many to actually witness firsthand what goes on during a rescue at sea – albeit in quite calm and controlled conditions.
“It has been a proud moment for all of those involved from the unit to be part of one of the world’s most prestigious boat shows and to be able to carry out such a training drill at the heart of London.
“And it has been a fitting launch to celebrating 60 years of Royal Navy helicopter search and rescue.”
The two current Royal Navy helicopter search and rescue units are based at RNAS Culdrose in Cornwall and at HMS Gannet in Ayrshire, Scotland. Together their coverage is 206,000 square miles – an area larger than Spain.
Search and rescue crew members from both HMS Gannet and 771 Naval Air Squadron will remain available at the Royal Navy’s stand (C180) to chat to the public about the service, the Fleet Air Arm and the wider Royal Navy until the show closes on Sunday, January 20.
Visitors young and old can also take the opportunity to have a go at the SAR Challenge – a race against the clock to get into the rescue kit that the crews routinely use.
There is also the opportunity to join the audience at a daily presentation at Knowledge Box, right beside the Royal Navy stand, to take part in an interactive talk exploring further the role of search and rescue, including being able to get their hands on some of the key equipment used during rescues.