Naval Reservists from HMS Sherwood come in from the cold
Three “blue-nosed” Reservists from HMS Sherwood in Nottingham have returned from a major exercise inside the Arctic Circle.
The all-female trio – Lieutenant Kathryn Jacques, Chief Petty Officer Samantha Martin and Able Seaman Sheryl Batty – travelled north to augment NATO’s Exercise Cold Response. The biggest war game of the winter, involving 16,000 service men and women from 12 nations, was played out amid the Norwegian fjords and mountains in the harshest of winter weather conditions.
Logisticians CPO Martin and AB Batty were based ashore at Tjeldsundbrua, near Harstad, in Norway. Working as part of a combined logistics team, they were responsible for moving personnel and supplies between ships at sea and locations ashore.
“We worked closely with the Norwegian Logistics Team,” said AB Batty. “We used their tugs, swapped vehicles with them and arranged joint personnel movements.”
“Our responsibilities included arranging the disembarkation of the 69 members of the Commander UK Task Group’s staff from HMS Bulwark,” added CPO Martin.
The dynamic military situation and changing Arctic weather conditions meant that the logisticians constantly had to adapt and re-plan.
“When HMS Illustrious didn’t come into port as planned, we quickly had to find different ways to transfer personnel and stores on board,” said CPO Martin. “We successfully disembarked 121 Officer Cadets and Staff to return to the UK, but then had to find accommodation for them all at short notice when their flights were postponed.”
“I had to drive into Sweden – through total whiteouts and an avalanche zone – to collect an Engineer urgently needed on board HMS Illustrious,” said AB Batty.
Meanwhile, Amphibious Warfare Officer Lt Jacques was embarked in the assault ship HMS Bulwark augmenting the staff of Commodore McAlpine, Commander UK Task Group. The Royal Navy’s Flagship was the primary control ship for the Amphibious Task Group and provided huge amphibious assault capability from her 450 Royal Marines, Dutch Marines and United States Marines and their 60 vehicles.
Working for the Royal Marine Assault Squadron, “Hattie” was a member of a team managing complex amphibious operations.
“Our role was to provide round the clock control of landing craft including raids and a full amphibious assault,” said Lt Jacques. “We also controlled the landing craft for an impressive amphibious demonstration by our Royal Marines for King Harald V of Norway, who is an honorary colonel in the Royal Marines.”
The challenge of operating at sea during the Arctic winter – with high winds, blizzards and temperatures as low as -40oC – was the most memorable aspect of the exercise for Hattie.
“Controlling helicopter and landing craft operations in heavy seas and sub-zero temperatures was pretty testing,” she said. “But I crossed the Arctic Circle and have my Blue Nose certificate to prove it!”
The Royal Naval Reserve recruits people from all walks of life into roles as diverse as submarine operations and nursing. If you are looking for a new challenge or you want to find out more call HMS Sherwood on 0115 9296373