|Exercise Speedex 2006|
On Tuesday October 3rd, the Marine and Air Component worked together during the exercise Speedex 2006. This was a large coordinated exercise in order to train the crewmembers of the A960 Godetia, F911 Westdiep and the A950 Valcke as well as those of Seaking RS-03 and Alouette III M-3.
Belgian Marine Component vessel A960 Godetia with Alouette III helicopter on the aft deck.
After the final coordination briefing and a last weather check it was time to board the ships and prepare for the Speedex 2006. The F911 Westdiep was the first ship to leave the harbour of Zeebrugge around 1000L shortly followed by the A960 Godetia and the A950 Valcke. Not long after the ships had cleared the harbour the exercise began with a simulated fire on board of the ships. An Alouette III of the Marine Component joined the A960 Godetia to train the crew for all kind of emergencies and landing procedures on sea. A simulated crash on board and fire with wounded people. Thereafter the RS-03 Seaking helicopter from Koksijde airbase joined the F911 Westdiep. The Seaking simulated a news helicopter that was taking pictures of the ship with no clearances. The command post of the Westdiep followed the prescribed procedures to make contact with the helicopter in order to identify it. And to make it aware it was flying in a non authorized zone. Later on the day other items were trained amongst the marine ships, like RAS-Approaches and different formations were executed, some of the rather close and spectacular.
Alouette III M-3 aboard the A960 Godetia
Westland Seaking RS03 as annoying "news" helicopter
Around 1300L the Westdiep started to install the “Splash Target” for the scheduled F-16s. The splash target is no more than a wooden construction with metal plates on it in order to spray water up in the air like a little fountain. This fountain is visible by the F-16s and is the target for the 20mm Vulcan Canon. The splash target is attached to a rope and is dragged behind the ship. The minimum safe distance was 600m but the captain decided to drag the target at a distance of 800m for extra safety.
The “Splash Target” for the scheduled F-16 attack.
When the F-16s were inbound it became clear that these fighters would not do hot runs on the target but only dry runs. They had no ammo onboard because it was not certain that the weather would be suitable for hot runs during the time slot. Nevertheless the 3 F-16AMs coming from Florennes airbase did some spectacular dry runs on the splash target as well on the ship. Especially the later was very noisy but very pleasing for the crewmembers and photographers of DG IPR. The fighters came in very low and very fast, a tactic not chosen for amusement but this tactic is very difficult for the air defence systems onboard the Godetia.
Florennes F-16AM in action over the Godetia.
Two F-16s coming from the 1ste squadron Stinger were equipped with the MRP (Modular recce pod) the third F-16 had only two wing tanks. There callsign was Sting 41 till 43 and if they took any pictures of the ship remained unclear.
Smile you are on the picture of camera ship F-16AM FA-135
All the marine ships and the Alouette III helicopter returned to the harbour in Zeebrugge except the F911 Westdiep which was on its way to the Caribbean to fulfil Drugs Patrols for 2 months.
All crewmembers on the Westdiep present only for this exercise were transferred to the Godetia to return to shore after an eventful day on the frigate.
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Text and pictures by
© Dirk Voortmans (October 2006)
Last updated 06/10/06 08:45 Daniel Brackx