Coast Guard Trains with Royal Navy

Coastguard crews from the Royal Bermuda Regiment took part in a helicopter winching exercise thanks to a visit from a Royal Fleet Auxiliary ship.

Written by Fiona McWhirter, Royal Gazette

The offshore training involved a Royal Navy aircraft from RFA Tideforce, which arrived last week for a brief stopover.

Captain Jeffrey Patterson, the RBR Coastguard commander, said that the exercise on Sunday was for a “winching scenario”.

Captain Patterson said that the manoeuvre might be needed in the event of a medical emergency or similar occurrence.

He added that 11 members of the coastguard and three of its vessels took part in the exercise, which also involved the island’s Maritime Operations Centre.

A spokeswoman for Government House said last week that the Tideforce visit was to give its crew some rest before they continued out to sea.

She added: “While here, a Royal Navy helicopter from RFA Tideforce will conduct familiarisation flights across the island.

“This was last done in 2020 and is a key part of the ongoing hurricane preparedness plan for Bermuda.

“The helicopter will also conduct offshore training with the Royal Bermuda Regiment Coastguard.”

Captain Patterson said: “To do training with our counterparts, especially overseas, with the Royal Navy, is always a great opportunity for everybody.”

He added: “To have the opportunity to work with an organisation that has that type of equipment, that we don’t deal with every day, except when we go overseas, it’s a great opportunity for people to interact and, or work with that type of equipment.

“Everyone did very much enjoy themselves, from both sides.

“For Tideforce, it was good for their crew to work and transfer people from their helicopter to our type of boats … our boats are very different from other boats that they deal with.”

The Governor, Rena Lalgie, said: “The crew of RFA Tideforce have been in Bermuda for a well deserved period of rest, having come from operations in the Turks & Caicos Islands, and will be departing our shores tomorrow.

“As Governor, I am especially grateful to Commanding Officer Captain Chris Clarke, the officers and rates of RFA Tideforce, and to the embarked Royal Navy personnel from 815 Naval Air Squadron, for the training held in support of the Royal Bermuda Regiment Coast Guard, and their engagement with Government House, the Ministry of National Security, and the Royal Bermuda Regiment Junior Leaders.”

RFA Tideforce is the fourth of class of the military afloat reach and sustainability tankers.

The 30,000-tonne tide class tankers are the largest ships in service within the RFA, which provides logistical support to the Royal Navy all over the world.