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Dutch sailors train at Raleigh

28 January 2016
Sailors from the Royal Netherlands Navy have been practising restoring a ship at sea using HMS Raleigh’s new multi-million pound training rig.

A group of 12 Seaman Specialists have spent the week at the Royal Navy training base using the replenishment-at-sea (RAS) rig, which was formally opened in September 2013.

The rig simulates the transfer of stores, food supplies, liquids, such as fuel, and personnel between auxiliary vessels and warships. 

The training course was delivered and assessed by five instructors from the Royal Netherlands Navy, supported by Royal Navy personnel, and forms part of the Dutch sailors’ eight month course to prepare them for promotion.

The Royal Netherlands Navy have been regular visitors to HMS Raleigh and have previously trained on the old RAS rig.

Sergeant Major Robert Bakker, one of the instructors from the Netherlands, said: “Being able to use this facility is very valuable to us.  It is a lot more modern than the old facility here at Raleigh.

"For a few of our guys it’s the first time they’ve seen a RAS happen.  Last night we had a night-time exercise and it was quite realistic.”

It is a fantastic facility allowing us to train sailors and RFA personnel to carry out what is one of the most hazardous seamanship tasks we engage in at sea.

Warrant Officer Kevin Whiteley

HMS Raleigh’s RAS rig features a 25 metre steel mast and three separate steel ship structures which mimic sections of the hull of the Queen Elizabeth class aircraft carriers, a Type 45 destroyer and a general purpose frigate.

Its predecessor comprised of just two sections, representing a Royal Fleet Auxiliary (RFA) vessel and a warship.

During RAS operations ships can come within just 50 metre of each other whilst remaining underway and are linked together by heavy tensioned steel wires to transfer essential supplies.  RAS can take place in all weather conditions, day or night.

Warrant Officer 1 Kev Whiteley, the Seamanship Training Officer at HMS Raleigh, said:  “The rig was initially built as a demonstrator by Rolls Royce to prove their RAS designs for the new carriers.

"Once the trials were complete it was converted to a training facility and handed over to the Royal Navy. It is a fantastic facility allowing us to train sailors and RFA personnel to carry out what is one of the most hazardous seamanship tasks we engage in at sea.

"The benefit here is we can train in a safe environment using the equipment the team would encounter on board ship.”

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