HMNB Devonport has welcomed the first landing on its new, multi million pound, Helicopter Operating Facility.
A Dauphin from the Fleet Helicopter Support Unit (FHSU) touched down at the new facility, where they will forward base away from their home airfield in Newquay, to facilitate Fleet Operational Sea Training (FOST) staff transfers to ships at sea, undergoing training in the local exercise areas.
The area, at the northern extremity of the Naval Base, has been transformed by Morgan Sindall Construction into a state of the art installation, fit with a Meteorological Observation Station and provision to refuel visiting Helicopters. As well as the Dauphin of the FHSU, the new facility is capable of accommodating the Royal Navy’s Merlin and Wildcat Helicopters.
Lieutenant Commander Simon Smith, an Air Traffic Officer working at Plymouth Military Radar, will see the facility used by aircraft supporting ships at sea. He said; “My role in the Helicopter Landing Site (HLS) has been in addition to my normal work and it’s providing an operational input into the construction and bringing it up to today, where we will be getting the first helicopter operation from the site.
“The whole purpose is to transfer FOST personnel from shore to sea to carry out operational training of the ships. For the last 10 years that has been happening from HMS Raleigh, which is a good hour transit away. This will now be a 10 minute drive in the Base to the HLS and then straight out to sea, making for a much more efficient process.”