One part of the exercise saw reservists at Browndown Beach, Southampton preparing the beach for the Mexeflote powered raft to approach and off-load/load vehicles. For many of the reservists involved this was the first time they had used the platform to move vehicles between the beach and a “Roll On-Roll Off ferry” anchored in the Solent.
Staff Sergeant Ivor Farrell, Acting Coxswain, was responsible for transferring the vehicles and equipment between shore and the ferry. He said: “There are many different challenges we have to consider when operating the Mexeflote but probably the biggest one faced is obviously the weather conditions as these will directly impact on our ability to discharge the assets onto the beach.
Communication and teamwork is also a key skill that the crew need to develop. Staff Sergeant Ivor Farrell
“Communication and teamwork is also a key skill that the crew need to develop. With the vessel fully laden the engineer is unable to see the beach or the skipper giving direction so we rely on a system of hand signals to convey direction, so working together as one to ensure a successful landing is imperative.”
Ivor joined the reserves after completing 24 years’ service in the Royal Logistic Corps and was quick to point out the varied trade opportunities available in the Regiment, adding: “We train as Port Operators, Seaman, Marine Engineers and Vehicle specialists so there are many new skills and qualifications that can be obtained, which are equally usable in civilian careers.”
Warrant Officer 1st Class Stephen Cooper, an Operations Manager for Foreland Shipping Limited, was pleased with how the exercise was progressing: “Operating and practicing their skill sets in this type of environment will be new to many of the soldiers. They will have had to overcome unfamiliar challenges, so there will have been nerves, but we have conducted 2 days of low-level training to give them the base knowledge needed and also provided appropriate mentoring to complete the tasks set of them. While it will take a few years for them to be proficient in this role they are progressing really well.”