HMS Sultan was recently transformed into a small fictional Island called Leander as part of the Establishment’s trainees’ Operational Sea Training weekend.
Trainee technicians and officers from within the Royal Naval Air Engineering and Survival School (RNAESS) joined with their Defence School of Marine Engineering (DSMarE) counterparts to solve a number of challenging scenarios designed to develop their communication and problem solving skills.
The weekend’s training programme started on Friday afternoon with trainees informed that the Establishment of HMS Sultan was to be morphed into a Type 46 Hurricane class frigate with over 300 trainees split into small groups for the entire weekend.
Saturday started with some early morning Physical Training which was followed by a full day’s instruction on tasks designed to prepare them for anything that may be encountered during disaster relief and humanitarian aid operations.
The Sunday morning started similarly to the Saturday with early morning Physical Training before trainees mustered to receive the latest sitrep (Situation Report):- “A catastrophic earthquake has hit the Island of Leander and the ship’s company of HMS Sultan are to provide immediate humanitarian aid and disaster relief to the Island and its inhabitants.”
Before commencement of the day’s evolutions, the traditional short church service, which was conducted to offer prayers to the unfortunate souls, was interrupted by the first incidents of the morning’s DISTEX (disaster relief training exercise). The sound of an aircraft in trouble and a squeal of brakes as a lorry ‘crashed’ were heard by the crew of HMS Sultan.
With evolutions held throughout the Establishment, Fort Rowner was allocated to represent the Island’s capital, which was found to be a site overwhelmed by destruction with casualties made up of willing youngsters from HMS Sultan’s own Volunteer Cadet Corps requiring attention aboard a mini bus, chemical spills and a crashed helicopter with aircrew who also held vital information towards solving the weekend’s challenges.
Additional challenges saw trainees support a casualty and refugee handling centre, Island hospital, in restoring fresh water and power supplies with specialist teams dispatched from HQ1 to address remaining ‘trouble spots’.
In a simulation of the recent Op Pitchpole which saw trainees from the Establishment working alongside government agencies to provide flood relief, over 3 tonnes of sand bags were distributed and installed at key flood defence points from the Establishment’s very own Super Sentinel Steam Lorry.
With all the tasks completed it was left to the Island’s Mayoress, Air School Training Design Analyst Sandra Parkinson, to address the ship’s company.
First undertaken in 2008, HMS Sultan Operation Sea Training (SOST) has evolved from a small scale training serial targeting Phase 2 Ratings to a multi-aspect pan-site evolution now encompassing all Junior Engineer Officers, including International Officers, and Phase 2 AE, SE and ET (ME) Ratings undergoing training at HMS Sultan. The aim is to expose the trainees to activities that may be typical in their first deployment.