HMS Illustrious is the safest place to be in the Royal Navy if you’re flying after the famous carrier won a prestigious award. The Bambara Trophy is presented each year to the ship, squadron or unit which does the most to promote – and enact – safety in the world of naval aviation.
The Portsmouth-based helicopter carrier, currently leading the Royal Navy’s input to NATO’s winter war games – Exercise Cold Response – in northern Norway, has been presented with the Bambara Trophy, awarded each year to the unit with the best flight safety record.
Lusty, which only emerged from an extensive refit last summer, was assessed on the tasks she had to complete, her flight safety organisation, awareness and contributions to flight safety.
She did so with a very demanding post-refit programme, many inexperienced ship’s company aboard, and seven different helicopter types from all three Services on her flight deck at various times.
Indeed, in the past nine months, Illustrious has seen a consistently busy flight deck with numerous squadrons embarking for only short periods of time – including some aircrew and engineering personnel who hadn’t previously had exposure to the maritime aviation environment.
Successfully engendering flight safety awareness and ethos within the 670 members of the ship’s company hasn’t always been easy. However, Illustrious’ flight safety committee found numerous ways to keep it at the forefront of the crew’s minds. These have included mess deck flight safety newsletters, aviation stakeholder discussions, mess deck ‘chats’ and the efforts of the ‘Foreign Object Debris’ working group.
The hard work and tireless efforts have been rightly rewarded with the award of the Bambara Flight Safety Award (the trophy itself dates back to the end of the 1950s when HMS Bambara paid off in Ceylon – today Sri Lanka; the funds from her decommissioning led to a silver cup being given to the Fleet Air Arm).
“I am immensely proud that the Ship’s efforts have been recognised in this way,” said Lt Cdr Pete Haywood – known by many aboard simply as ‘F’, short for Lt Cdr Flying.
“We have set a standard for others to follow as the Illustrious now takes on the responsibility as the nation’s on-call helicopter and commando carrier.”
Naval Today Staff , March 09, 2012; Image: royalnavy