On 16th August 2017 Conning exercises were carried out by ten watchkeepers. The result of which was very informative and which emphasised a number of areas , whereby procedures can be improved
Radio Officer report on board motor launch ODIN
“Lessons we learned:
• We expected the buoy with bucket attached would drift quite slowly. In reality the bucket, instead of acting as a drogue, dragged the buoy quite quickly with the current. This meant the buoy, with bucket attached moved at quite a rate from west to east. We discussed removing the bucket and replacing it with the 4Kg grapnel anchor on a short strop, but didn’t have time to do this. Might be something to try next time. Also, the white buoys, despite their size and doubling them up, were obviously difficult to see from the tower, a high-viz colour might work better.
• We do understand that the sun shining straight into the tower windows made spotting the ‘casualty’ difficult. By contrast, because we had the sun behind us, we could see both buoys and racing mark very clearly at ranges of over 1nm.
• When being conned onto the moving buoy, it was obvious, when Odin was moving at a tangent to the tower, it was very difficult for those conning to assess whether or not the ‘casualty’ was ‘dead-ahead’. Quite a few times when the “dead ahead” call was made, the buoy was, in fact, up to 30 degrees port or starboard of Odin. Some thought needed on a way of giving more accuracy.
• Most of those conning us started a turn toward the ‘casualty’, but then failed to stop the turn, resulting in the need for a further correction. (See below for possible solution- Ray) We on Odin were being deliberately ‘dull’ and followed instructions to the letter, even though we were visual with the ‘casualty’ at all times. This often resulted in Odin ‘weaving’ a good deal. If the watchkeeper conning us can see we are heading more or less directly to the ‘casualty’ an instruction to “stop the turn” would be valuable.
All very minor stuff and fixable.
Considering many of the watchkeepers had not performed a live conning before — there was some excellent Conning with some very good R/T procedures.
Training Officer Report
I think we gained some valuable lessons from both inside the tower and from the perspective of inside the pretend lifeboat.
Things to remember.
1. As channel zero is a private channel for SAR platforms only — you may keep the callsigns calls to a minimum and keep the mike open
2. If the spotter can see the target clearly with the naked eye then the spotter can also do the R/T– this will save time.
3. If however it is difficult to keep the target in sight ( i.e having to use the binoculars and/or the periscope) the second watchkeeper should take over all the other duties including the R/T.
4. We found that it was difficult to stop ODIN going through the dead ahead position. It is recommended that the spotter should try and anticipate this and tell the lifeboat to stop turning. Calls: should be turn port, turn slightly port, stop turning and then target dead ahead with a range call each time. However we did find that on a couple of occasions when we called dead ahead a crew member came back and asked if they should stop turning.
5. Remember at 200 meters to ask the lifeboat has he got visual with the target – otherwise you might go over the top of the target — NOT GOOD.
6. We will be investigating other means of simulating a target with a reserve of using the red buoy with orange flag in front of the tower. Ie a RTYC Racing mark