Soldiers to be stationed at historic base
By Western Daily Press | Friday, October 25, 2013, 05:00
Royal Naval Air Station Commodore Jock Alexander, right, and Colonel Neil Dalton, Commander Army Aviation Reconnaissance Force, left PICTURES: STEVE ROBERTS
Hundreds of Army troops could move into Somerset, the military announced at RNAS Yeovilton yesterday.
In a briefing at the Fleet Air Arm Museum press and members of the public heard 40 of up to 700 troops, which are set to be stationed at the base over the next five years, will arrive on November 25, from Gutersloh, Germany.
Colonel Neil Dalton, commanding officer of the Aviation Reconnaissance Force, said the team would be in charge of preparing the base for the gradual arrival of the rest of the new 652 Wildcat Fielding Squadron Army Air Corps, with the next 200 set to arrive in September 2014.
The former member of the commando helicopter force was previously based in Yeovilton 20 years ago.
He said: "This is not about the Army coming into your community. It is about the Army coming into Yeovilton where they are already integrated with the community.
"I will make sure my organisation loves this area as much as I do."
Future arrivals could move from bases such as Dishforth, North Yorkshire.
The £180 million investment will see around 4,300 people stationed at the base by 2016.
Nearly 150 houses have already been set aside in Yeovil and Wincanton to accommodate the servicemen and women, with plans to plough money into improving existing local facilities to cope with the increased number of residents.
Commodore Jock Alexander said there were plans to invest in a number of town community centres.
Speakers were quizzed by teachers who said they wanted enough time as possible to prepare for a possible influx of children.
One said: "We welcome this move, but we want to plan ahead so we can accommodate the children. It would help to know figures and what time scale we are working to."
Commanding officer Terry Tyack said it was hard to say at this stage how many family members would also arrive with the move.
But Christopher Le Hardy, Somerset county councillor and chairman of the Armed Forces Community Covenant Partnership, said: "We want to assure you all we are working we are looking at this very closely and will give you more figures and information as soon as we can."
Plans to improve roads surrounding the base and policing strategies were also discussed.
The troops will work with 30 Merlin and six Wildcat helicopters – which are set to be phased into the base over the coming years as the Lynx and Sea King fleets are retired.
Guests were assured operations in terms of flying patterns and work load would broadly stay the same.
The military has had a presence at Yeovilton since 1939, when the Admiralty Air Division commandeered 417 acres of land and work began on constructing the historic site.
A group of Somali pirates was stopped in its tracks by an international operation led by a British commander, the Royal Navy has announced.
The pirates were caught by the Combined Maritime Forces (CMF) counter piracy task force – Combined Task Force (CTF) 151 – in an operation involving ships from several nations, including Britain, after recent attacks on two vessels in the Indian Ocean. The CMF is a multinational partnership of 29 nations which promotes security and stability in international waters.
The task force, whose commander is Royal Navy Commodore Jeremy Blunden, had been searching for the pirates since they attacked and exchanged gunfire with the supertanker Island Splendor on October 11. Three days later a Spanish fishing vessel was also attacked by what was suspected to be the same pirates.
The pirate skiffs were quickly traced, boarded and searched.
Commodore Blunden said: "This is an excellent result. My multinational counter piracy forces swiftly located and dealt with this Somali pirate group, sending a clear message that piracy no longer pays."