The Secretary of State for Defence, The Rt Hon Philip Hammond MP, visited the Royal Navy’s Flagship HMS Bulwark at sea on August 2 in Weymouth Bay during the ship’s operational duties as the afloat Command And Control Headquarters in support of the maritime policing and security mission at the Olympic Sailing venue.
The Defence Secretary made the visit to thank those who were embarked for their Service to the Olympic mission.
Escorted by Rear Admiral Ian Corder, Commander Maritime Operations, the Defence Secretary joined the Flagship by Landing Craft Utility (LCU), accompanied by the Chief Constable of Dorset Police Martin Baker.
During the breezy transit across the bay, the Minister spent time in the Landing Craft wheelhouse speaking to the Royal Marines from 4 Assault Squadron Royal Marines (4ASRM).
Arriving into the ship’s dock, the Defence Secretary crossed the ramp from the LCU to the metal beach inside the ship and was greeted by Bulwark’s Commanding Officer, Captain Alex Burton and Executive Staff. In his brief tour of the assault ship talking to embarked forces, Mr Hammond met many members of the ship’s company both on the bridge and around the ship.
The Defence Secretary took great interest in HMS Bulwark’s operations room, speaking to the Police, MCA and LOCOG Marine controllers delivering the bespoke security plan to secure and protect over 50 square miles of the Dorset coast. Keen to learn about their experiences of working alongside the Royal Navy, Mr Hammond spoke to civilians deployed for Olympic duties to HMS Bulwark.
Captain Alex Burton provided an overview of the Maritime Force’s daily activity.
The Defence Secretary was impressed to see how the operations room team has become an effective hub of information, fusing multiple communications and tracking systems to provide detailed situational awareness of all activity at sea and in the air.
Mr Hammond also took the opportunity to meet some of the Royal Navy’s potential future sailors, a group of young Sea Cadets who were visiting the Maritime Force on the day to gain seamanship skills; a rare invitation to experience life on board HMS Bulwark that has been extended to hundreds of Sea Cadets from across the country over the Olympic summer.
Mr Hammond departed from the Flight Deck in a Merlin helicopter from 814 Naval Air Squadron. The helicopter is flying continuous sorties across the bay, providing eyes in the sky.
The Maritime Force stationed off the Dorset coast is providing a safe and secure field of play for the Olympic sailors throughout the London 2012 Games period and will return to assist with policing the Paralympics in September.
Naval Today Staff, August 6, 2012; Image: Royal Navy