1-May-2012 Source: Royal Navy
The Torpoint base stepped in when Plymouth Airport closed and now serves as a ‘lily pad’ for helicopters working for the Flag Officer Sea Training.
In their distinctive blue livery, two Dauphin helicopters which serve the RN’s premier training organisation are parked on new landing pads at HMS Raleigh.
This is the new and improved helicopter landing site at HMS Raleigh, formally opened to assist the Flag Officer Sea Training organisation prepare British and Allied warships for front-line duties.
There has been a landing site at the Torpoint establishment for some time, but with the closure of Plymouth Airport earlier this year FOST staff needed an accessible location to fly to and from ships training off the Devon and Cornish coast.
Upward of 100 warships and auxiliaries – not just Royal Navy but also German, Dutch, Portuguese vessels among other NATO nations – make use of the intensive and world-renowned training offered by FOST.
Helicopters from British International Helicopters, flying under contract to the RN, provide an essential service transporting FOST staff to and from ships.
The existing site at Raleigh has now been expanded to three landing pads with portable buildings for crew and passengers (all unofficially known as ‘RNAS Torpoint’).
Flights take place during daylight hours – defined as 30 minutes before sunrise to half an hour after the sun has gone down. Occasionally flying will take place at the weekend, although this will be extremely infrequent. With the improvements to the site other helicopters can use the facility.
“Utilising the long-established helicopter landing site at HMS Raleigh was the most cost effective way of maintaining the service,” said Cdr Mike Smith, Staff Operations Officer at FOST.”
“With helicopters operating from Raleigh on a more regular basis improvements to the site were required in the form of passenger handling and operating facilities.”
“Currently the two Dauphin helicopters used for this service are housed overnight at British International Helicopters hangars at Newquay Airport, but we are in discussion with Cornwall County Council and other interested parties to build hangars and other facilities here at Raleigh, as a permanent operating base for the helicopters.”
Rear Admiral Clive Johnstone, Flag Officer Sea Training, cut the ribbon to formally open the enhanced facility.
“We are pleased to provide a site for the helicopters and to play our part in maintaining the ability to deliver world class, cost effective sea-going operational training,” said Capt Steve Murdoch, Raleigh’s Commanding Officer.”
“The development of an improved Helicopter Landing Site together with the building of the new Heavy Replenishment at Sea seamanship training facility, currently under construction, are just two examples of the versatility of this establishment.”
“It demonstrates the continued investment in HMS Raleigh, as well as the contribution the establishment is making to front-line training.”