Gosport Unit on Exercise
The Gosport unit has recently been training with the local National Coastwatch Station.
The NCI station has its lookout in part of Fort Blockhouse on the west side of the entrance to Portsmouth Harbour.
It has good views out over the Solent, and can also keep a watch on the harbour entrance where there is a small boat channel alongside the main channel reserved for commercial vessels and warships.
Portsmouth is a busy commercial port which keeps the NCI watch keepers busy logging vessel movements.
Exercises were set up for two consecutive Saturdays in April.
For the first exercise HoU, Stuart Harrison, and member Ian Whettingsteel fitted a CB radio to the launch ‘Granville’.
The boat left Royal Clarence Yard and headed out into the Solent to a pre-arranged position off Spitbank Fort.
AVO (South), Lynn Peppitt, with MVS Isle of Wight Unit Ops branch member, Eric Chestnutt, had set up a CB station from a car on Culver Down, south of Bembridge on the IoW where they had unrestricted views to the north across the Solent to Portsmouth.
Using binoculars they tried to get a visual on Granville but were unsuccessful.
Various combinations of radio communications were tried using both CB and PMR between NCI, ‘Granville’ and the IoW with the CB radio between IoW and NCI being the most successful.
Granville was able to receive clearly on CB but alterations to the aerial are required before greater range and clarity will be achieved on transmission.
The day of the second exercise dawned windy, blowing about a Force 5, with heavy showers predicted by the Met office.
Granville with MVS members Stuart Harrison, Glenn Mills, A/RVO David Button and Neil Richardson, the NCI radio operator using PMR, on board headed out into the Solent for a more complex exercise this time involving the Gosport and Fareham Inshore Rescue boats (GAFIRS).
Granville acted as a casualty vessel and NCI had to call out the inshore rescue to take Granville in tow.
This was all part of a Coastguard Accreditation test for the NCI.
The lifeboat organisation very much appreciated the training opportunities and some good links have been made where the Gosport unit can show that it is working for public benefit.
NCI felt that both exercises had been useful and had highlighted where more training needs to be focussed for their members.
Further exercises on a regular basis have been requested by Gosport NCI both to try out better quality equipment and to give their operators vital experience in the use of radio.