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Royal Navy, police and RNLI combine for Tyne-based lifesaving practice

2 December 2021
A Royal Navy patrol boat joined police and the RNLI in the mouth of the River Tyne to practise valuable casualty rescue skills.

Hull-based HMS Explorer journeyed up the east coast to join the Northumbrian Marine Police and Tynemouth RNLI to increase their ability to work together should all three find themselves responding to an emergency on the water.
 
P2000-class Inshore Patrol Craft Explorer is one of 16 vessels which make up the Royal Navy’s Coastal Forces Squadron, dedicated to training and operations around the UK, as well as offering undergraduates a taste of service life with University Royal Navy Units.
 
The aim of the combined Navy-police-RNLI workout was to learn how each service recovers casualties from the water and included hauling dummies out of the water and transferring a ‘casualty’ between vessels safely with the goal of getting them to the nearest medical facility as quickly as possible.
 
The training built on earlier work by Explorer with Thames River Police when she acted as a high-speed stolen craft which was rapidly boarded and taken control of by the police.
 
The training began at the Northumbria Police Marine Unit and Diving School in Viking Park as participants discussed potential scenarios involving casualties in the water along the Tyne and how best to respond. Explorer’s crew also demonstrated their first aid capabilities including the Neil Robinson stretcher used to transfer immobile casualties between decks on Royal Navy ships.
 
Scenarios were then put to test on the water with HMS Explorer using Ruth, the rescue dummy, to demonstrate the ship’s ability first to recover unconscious people from the water through to transferring a casualty with potential spinal injuries between the Royal Navy ship and the police RHIB Excalibur both while stopped and on the move.

It was a chance to exchange ideas, refine skills and learn from each other to ensure the greatest chance of collective success in the future.”

Lieutenant Mike Duncan

Capable of speeds in excess of 30 knots and of operating in the very shallow waters found on rivers, the police boat can be the quickest and most effective method of recovering a casualty to the nearest emergency medical facility.
 
Explorer then continued downstream to work with Tynemouth RNLI D-Class inshore lifeboat which operates out of North Shields’ Fish Quay.
 
As both the RNLI and Coastal Forces Squadron operate in the same or similar waters, seamless co-operation between the two could mean the difference between life and death at sea; in the cold North Sea, the speed with which a casualty can be recovered from the water can save lives.
 
The lifeboat and P2000 practised recovering unconscious casualties, passing them safely between the two vessels by ‘bump transfer’ – the two vessels touching as they moved at speeds between 6 and 12 knots.
 
“While the speed of casualty recovery can be lifesaving, operating at sea safely is paramount,” said Lieutenant Mike Duncan, Explorer’s Commanding Officer.
 
“This exercise looked to increase the ability of the Royal Navy, Northumbrian Marine Police and RNLI to work together.
 
“It was a chance to exchange ideas, refine skills and learn from each other to ensure the greatest chance of collective success in the future.”
 
It brought the curtain down on a busy year for Explorer which has sailed 5,500 nautical miles in 2021 – including circumnavigating the UK.
 
She’s taken part in the largest naval exercise staged in the UK, Joint Warrior, provided security for the G7 Summit in Cornwall and even chased down submarines as prospective commanders were tested on the demanding Submarine Command Course, known as Perisher.
 
The Tyneside training also prepared the ship for working with other similar-sized vessels in 2022: she’s earmarked to head to the Baltic with other vessels from her squadron plus the UK-led Joint Expeditionary Force for NATO’s major exercise in the spring. 

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