UK Royal Navy’s naval base HMNB Devonport in Plymouth has officially opened a new multi-million-pound Helicopter Operating Facility. A Dauphin helicopter, from the Newquay-based Fleet Helicopter Support Unit, touched down at the area marking the pad’s first landing, as well as the return of helicopter operations to the base after a gap of ten years.
The facility has been built under a £3 million contract, which was awarded by the Defence Infrastructure Organisation (DIO) last year.
The new helipad, built by Morgan Sindall Construction will serve as a base for essential sea training exercises, as well as a centre for daily operation - the UK Navy noted that the pad is primarily used by Fleet Operational Sea Training (FOST) staff.
“The purpose is to transfer FOST personnel from shore to sea to carry out operational training of ships,” UK Navy Air Traffic Officer Lieutenant Commander Simon Smith. “For the past ten years that has been happening from HMS Raleigh, which is a good hour’s transit away.
“This will now be a ten-minute drive in the base and then straight out to sea, making for a much more efficient process.”
The new facility also features a meteorological observation station and provision to refuel visiting helicopters. As well as Dauphins of the Fleet Helicopter Support Unit, based at Newquay, the new pad can host Merlin and Wildcat Helicopters, the Royal Navy explained.