HMS ECHO Navy News. Echo-location
Q. What do a bat, dolphin and SVHO have in common?
A. They all use some form of echolocation as their primary ‘weapon system’, and all came into contact with each other one day in the South Coast Exercise Areas this October. HMS ECHO, one of the Royal Navy’s two SVHOs (Survey Vessel Hydrographic Oceanographic), was carrying out survey training off Plymouth, using her Multibeam Echo Sounder (MBES) and Side Scan Sonar (SSS) to obtain images of a wreck. Both sonar systems use the two way travel time of sound to estimate the depth and position of features, thus obtaining an accurate depiction of the seabed. In this case, images were obtained of the wreck East Point, a 120m long steamship which was torpedoed in 1917 by the U-Boat U48. Archive records show that prior to sinking, the East Point managed to ram and damage the U48.
Whilst ECHO was conducting the survey training a small bat (later identified as a Nathusius’s Pipistrelle) was discovered one morning as the sun rose, initially flying around the quarterdeck before alighting on the ship’s superstructure. This gave LS Stoddard the opportunity to photograph the mouse-sized mammal, which may have come from as far away as Latvia. Bats use a highly sophisticated form of echolocation to communicate, navigate and locate their prey. However, this individual had seemingly become rather lost, finding itself many miles out at sea. It caused something of a dilemma; whether the animal be recorded in the Seabird or Marine Mammal log, as all such sightings constitute important environmental data. The fate of the bat is unknown, but all on ECHO very much hope it managed to find its way back to dry land and some warm cave.
Lastly, the common dolphins, which make a regular feature of the South Coast, were seen in great numbers as ECHO patrolled off Plymouth. Of course, care must be taken when operating any sonar system in the vicinity of such mammals and strict risk mitigation measures are put in place. Like most cetaceans, dolphins use echolocation as they navigate their way around the marine environment, with their complex vocalisations often being heard with the right listening equipment.
ECHO was carrying out the training ready to deploy to the Mediterranean later in the year, whilst her sister ship ENTERPRISE was returning from deployment. This gave the rare opportunity for both ships to conduct a sail past, and were later berthed adjacent to each other in HMNB DEVONPORT. LPhot Phil Bloor captured the ‘reunion’, the first occasion since the ships last rendezvoused off Sicily in 2015.
135 Geographical Squadron Royal Engineers
Driver Training – July
Because of the COVID-19 situation, this was a virtual training event which built on the driver training delivered in June. This event was conducted using Zoom and presentations were given by our Motor Transport instructors.
Virtual Training – August to October
To ensure our soldiers are engaged, we conducted Virtual Drill Nights every week. These events were well attended and enabled soldiers to keep up to date with their Military Annual Training Tests as well as being able to connect with other members of the squadron.
Exercise Loyal Leda – November
Over two weeks, members of 135 Geo Sqn have deployed to Gloucestershire in support of the ARRC training exercise known as Ex LOYAL LEDA. Alongside 14 Geo Sqn and under the Allied Rapid Reaction Corps (ARRC) Geo cell, this professional and highly capable contingent of reservists supported the Corps level exercise through the distribution of mapping out of their bulk replication facility and Tactical Mapping Distribution Point. In addition, the integration of our very own GIS experts into the ARRC Geo Cell was a significant success story from the deployment, where products produced by the Sqn’s soldiers were used in the planning and execution of subsequent phases of the exercise
In December the squadron will hold it’s annual Christmas function during an administration weekend.
In January the squadron will hold a weekend of combat engineer training. All soldiers in the squadron are Combat Engineers and this weekend is an important and enjoyable opportunity to brush up on these skills. The squadron plan to hold a Positioning Survey course which will give the attendees a specialist geographic qualification.
In February, the squadron will hold one of it’s Military Annual Training Test weekends to ensure all the troops in the squadron are classed as efficient. The Squadron also plan to hold another technical course. The Geographic Technician Intermediate course is the initial trade course that qualifies soldiers as Geographic Technicians.
In March, a military driving weekend will ensure our soldiers were up to date on the various military and civilian vehicles the squadron holds.
7010 Squadron Update, 17 November 2020
Current Establishment: 94, Strength: 85, Fully Trained Strength: 66
4 members of the Sqn remain mobilised in support of UK Operations. 3 Sqn members have expressed interest in mobilisation requirements in 2021.
The Sqn’s Aug and Sep working weekends were held again as “virtual weekends” with all attending personnel working from home on skills maintenance tasks via MS Teams (MoD COVID Homeworking System version). In Oct, RAF Wyton relaxed COVID restrictions sufficiently for the Sqn to hold a normal working weekend – a great morale boaster! Sqn members used the weekend to refresh specialist IT skills and reacquaint themselves with our intelligence tasking.
Basic Recruit and Intelligence Analyst training has continued since my last summary, hence the slight increase in the Strength and Trained Strength figures above. Interest in joining the RAF Reserve remains constant and we held an information day for potential recruits (17 attended) in Oct, the first since Mar.
2 Sqn members provided safety boat cover for the duration of the RAF Sailing Association/Royal Yachting Association Sailability competition for disabled sailors (incorporating the Brady Trophy) at Rutland Water, 20-23 Oct.
1 Sqn member participated in the RAF Water Ski and Wakeboarding Association 10th Cable Championships at Box End Park 24-28 Aug and was placed 2nd overall.
Officer Commanding 7010 Squadron