9 Cadets & 2 Staff from Wyvern Barracks based 13 (City of Exeter) Squadron Air Training Corps recently travelled to HMS Raleigh in Cornwall to pit their skills against the Royal Navy's multi-million pound sinking ship simulator, known as HMS Havoc. HMS Raleigh is where all recruits joining the Navy receive the first phase of their Naval training and is therefore the RN's answer to RAF Halton.
The massive simulator rocks from side to side, rapidly filling with water and the Cadets had to work together to stem the flow of water rushing through holes in the hull using wooden wedges and hammers. They then had to shore up the bulkheads with timber blocks to re-establish the water-tight integrity of the ship. If that wasn't bad enough all this was done in dark, cold conditions, while being rolled from side to side, one minute the Cadets were knee deep in water and the next it was over their heads,. The simulator training is part of Navy recruits' nine week initial training course and draws on the RN's experience from the Falklands war. The training from Havoc was credited in saving the Destroyer HMS Nottingham, which was badly damaged in 2002 when it hit a submerged rock, ripping a 50 meter hole in her side. As well as providing them with vital skills in how to deal with damage to a ship's hull and flooding, it is also a very effective team building exercise.
Cadet Sergeant Will Stokes said "The conditions inside the ship were pretty claustrophobic, it was wet, cold & pitch black, forcing you to try to keep a cool head. The realism really made you want to succeed & you kept having to remind yourself it was only an exercise!"