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World class survival training facility opens at Yeovilton

27 February 2018
Royal Naval Air Station (RNAS) Yeovilton has opened a world leading, first of its kind in the UK, facility to provide survival training in the event of a helicopter incident or accident over the water.

The Royal Navy School of Maritime SERE (Survive, Evade, Resist, Extract) and Underwater Escape Training Unit (UETU) was opened by Rear Admiral Keith Blount OBE who welcomed all to the new facility.

He said: “This has been a journey and triumph of The Fleet Air Arm’s hard work that something as splendid as this has been developed and built. The tremendous robust work of the previous 'Dunker' facility has allowed us to develop and engineer much more sophisticated training at this World Class facility. You should be really proud of yourselves at what you have achieved, thank you."

The facility in the first stage provides training to Yeovilton’s personnel who will be taught the procedures to follow whilst in an aircraft as it hits the water and sinks below the surface, day or night! They are then taught how to safely exit the aircraft whilst it is fully submerged under the water and return to the surface.

This has been a journey and triumph of The Fleet Air Arm’s hard work that something as splendid as this has been developed and built

Rear Admiral Keith Blount OBE, Head of the Fleet Air Arm

For the second part of the training they are then instructed on how to make safe whilst on the surface of the water by housing themselves in personal life rafts and waiting to be rescued. The third element of training is the rescue by air where personnel are winched from their life rafts on the water and recovered to safety.

Previous to this new facility across three pools housing 1,125,000 litres of water all of these elements of training were conducted separately in different locations and at different times due to the nature of training.

Now however the new Royal Navy School of Maritime SERE and Underwater Escape Training allows for all this training to take place in one location in a totally simulated facility. 

The Environmental Pool Trainer facility is capable of simulating full climatic conditions (Wind, Rain, Waves, Darkness) to ensure the training is fully representative of all the elements that might be faced in the real situation. The pool can have a two metre swell!

Simon Jones, Project Manager at DIO (Defence Infrastructure Organisation) said: "This facility demonstrates DIO's ability to deliver cost effective, bespoke solutions for our customers as is an essential component of our commitment to our world class military training. Our robust framework allowed us to collaborate with both Military and Industry partners to deliver this challenging project to specific timescales."

The building has been named after Rear Admiral Godfrey Place VC CB CVO, DSC and this facility allows for the delivery of all the training as a progressive evolution all in one place and is truly a world leading facility on a scale that has not been seen in the UK before.

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