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Chuting stars drop in on Dorset during submarine rescue exercise

Chuting stars drop in on Dorset during submarine rescue exercise
24 March 2016
A rigid inflatable boat hangs beneath the canopy of a parachute as it gently descends into Studland Bay in Dorset as submarine rescuers practise providing immediate assistance to a stricken boat.

A dozen members of the Submarine Parachute Assistance Group – typically shortened across the military to SPAG – leapt from the back of a Hercules and into the Channel, accompanied by their kit.

The jumpers are at six hours’ notice to go anywhere in the world if needed, taking inflatable boats, life rafts, hot and cold rations, first aid kit, and communications equipment.

Their job? To provide assistance on the surface of the ocean to men ascending from a SUBSUNK – the codeword which sends shivers down the spine of any submariner.

Leaping into the ocean is about as tricky as it gets – jumpers must release the parachute at the exact moment of impact to prevent being dragged along.

To maintain their parachute qualifications, the SPAGgers loaded their kit and caboodle on to one of the RAF’s veteran transporters and, with the help of Royal Logistic Corps 47 Air Despatch, jumped off the Hercules’ raft several thousand feet over the bay – where patrol ship HMS Severn and her sea boat were on stand-by.

“It was great to see the teamwork so my team could parachute and ensure a successful exercise was achieved,” said SPAG’s head, WO1 Chris Dello.

The jump group traces its history back to the late 60s when the Navy decided it needed a parachute rescue team – especially in remote areas.

It comprises volunteers from across the Royal Navy and Royal Marines. 

If you fancy becoming one of them, contact WO1 Dello at NAVY OP TRG-FOST N SMERAS SPAG.

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