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Question about Sea King ASW

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Question about Sea King ASW

Old 18th Oct 2019, 17:22
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Question about Sea King ASW

Hello all,

With AndySmith we are close to finishing the next book in the series on ASW in the South Atlantic and we need a clarification of a RN ASW term. So far, we have had differing opinions from the contacts we use for checking technical terms. So what better place to ask than here on PPRuNe...

So:
Ripple 3 - what does term mean exactly. Is it a:
  • 2 SK on station with 1 on transit to or from the operating area
  • 3 SK on station with up to 2 on transit
Thanks to all!

Best regards,
Andy
Mariano

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Old 18th Oct 2019, 20:14
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try here;

Future Carrier (Including Costs)
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Old 18th Oct 2019, 21:43
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Marcantilan,


I may be able to help. From my fading memory, a 'Ripple 3' meant three lines on the flypro, each filled by an aircraft. Depending on the range at which the ASW screen was required (we're talking 'pinging' with active sonar here), this would generate two aircraft out on the screen, with the third aircraft outbound or inbound. When an aircraft had to be changed (either unserviceable or it ran out of hours) then we'd have to generate a fourth aircraft which would normally launch before the aircraft being pulled out of the 'ripple' returned. We always kept a 'Spare on Deck' (SOD) primed and ready in case one of the aircraft went U/S on the deck.

In 1982, shortly after we set sail for Ascension, our squadron was tasked to support not only a 'Ripple 3', but also an additional line for Surface Search. This line required more than one aircraft, as the aircraft taking over often had to launch before the other SS aircraft came back.

Oh, and all this was what happened at night. During the day, we normally got two or three additional lines for HDS around the fleet. We flew very nearly as many HDS hours as we racked up on ASW. Just to add an extra layer of spiciness, on INVINCIBLE during the day we were effectively limited to one deck spot, (Number 5, just aft of the island) as the runway had to be kept clear for the Sea Harriers at alert. As a result, our maintainers got fairly sharp at moving aircraft around quickly.

Hope this helps, best regards as ever to all those 'rippling' out there now.

Engines
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Old 18th Oct 2019, 22:47
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Originally Posted by Marcantilan View Post
Hello all,

With AndySmith we are close to finishing the next book in the series on ASW in the South Atlantic and we need a clarification of a RN ASW term. So far, we have had differing opinions from the contacts we use for checking technical terms. So what better place to ask than here on PPRuNe...

So:
Ripple 3 - what does term mean exactly. Is it a:
  • 2 SK on station with 1 on transit to or from the operating area
  • 3 SK on station with up to 2 on transit
Thanks to all!

Best regards,
Andy
Mariano
As Engines has described, Ripple 3 was the number of aircraft allocated on the Flypro. There could be all three on task, screening, or just two dipping with one transiting for refuel and crew change: normal time allocated per sortie was 4 hours.
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Old 19th Oct 2019, 07:15
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Originally Posted by John Eacott View Post
As Engines has described, Ripple 3 was the number of aircraft allocated on the Flypro. There could be all three on task, screening, or just two dipping with one transiting for refuel and crew change: normal time allocated per sortie was 4 hours.
Many thanks to all of you who have replied

I think this is why we have struggled to accurately define this term. I have two ex RN ASW pilots who served in the conflict, to whom I am very grateful, who help me with terminology and technical descriptions for the translation. They gave me slightly contradictory explanations (which is why we asked for a third opinion here). Their opinion is mirrored here. I guess it's a term that is quite fluid in meaning.

Therefore, I take it that there can be between 3 and 5 cabs in the air with 2 or 3 of those on station and the remainder on transit to or from the operational area? In order to support the larger version, I understand there would be about 8 cabs and many crew involved. Sound absolutely ball-breakingly tiring for those involved both in the air and on mother.

I endeavour to make the translation as easy as possible for a layman to understand, while at the same time not too inaccurate so that those of you have better knowledge of operations than me (which is probably most of you) don't get too grumpy by an inaccurate description or definition.... sometimes this can be a little challenging.

BZ

Andy
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Old 19th Oct 2019, 10:28
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Concur with Engines.

I wonder if there is a photo of an example Flypro board anywhere on the www ? I had a look and couldn't find anything. It's the best way to visualise the process.

In Op Corporate some Flypros would have been on a chalkboard, or magnetic strips, later on whiteboard and coloured marker pens (I guess all computerised now ?). AndySmith and JohnE concur, there were of course variations on the theme but as already stated a true Ripple 3 would be to imagine drawing a vertical line through a chart similar to below, and always have three aircraft in the air underneath that line, albeit two might be on task and one in transit to and from the screen. Of course the transiting aircraft could still be engaged in some form of ASW apart from active dipping. Handovers were most important and often achieved in transit. Close in passive you could sometimes be monitoring buoys whilst still on deck before launching.

Who remembers the Gimp Board of cock-ups/humour that always accompanied a Ripple which resulted in Trophy Night's awards on the next "up channel" night ? Like... "Sub Lt X dreamt he got a shake, got dressed and turned up for a non-existent brief"...... In fact the whole logistic of sleeping till shaken, ACRB meal management, Duty Crew, unserviceable aircraft swaps and pulling those for due flexops made it an all-squadron coordinated effort. One or two duty men running the briefing room, one on deck, one running around the ship for shakes/meals/signals. The squadron Wheels often acted as floaters, dropping into the programme at various time but still maintaining their duties with the Ship's Command. I reckon there were occasions where a couple of contributing aircraft to "the Ripple" could be yours detached to RFAs, and also from other squadrons where they were given Flypro lines to fill. The origin was to protect a convoy coming over from the East Coast USA. Northern Wedding with the Ark Group and 824 NAS in 1978 a classic example of the art. Cold War Warriors !


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Old 19th Oct 2019, 11:36
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Originally Posted by AndySmith View Post
Many thanks to all of you who have replied

I think this is why we have struggled to accurately define this term. I have two ex RN ASW pilots who served in the conflict, to whom I am very grateful, who help me with terminology and technical descriptions for the translation. They gave me slightly contradictory explanations (which is why we asked for a third opinion here). Their opinion is mirrored here. I guess it's a term that is quite fluid in meaning.

Therefore, I take it that there can be between 3 and 5 cabs in the air with 2 or 3 of those on station and the remainder on transit to or from the operational area? In order to support the larger version, I understand there would be about 8 cabs and many crew involved. Sound absolutely ball-breakingly tiring for those involved both in the air and on mother.

I endeavour to make the translation as easy as possible for a layman to understand, while at the same time not too inaccurate so that those of you have better knowledge of operations than me (which is probably most of you) don't get too grumpy by an inaccurate description or definition.... sometimes this can be a little challenging.

BZ

Andy
AndySmith

Ripple 3 was for three Sea Kings to be tasked continually throughout the period of the exercise; the 'Ripple' was the changeover of cabs when one or another came out of the Flypro for servicing. Never more than three turning and burning at any one time.

With the four hour sorties we would be briefing one hour before launch, airborne four hours, debrief, maybe a trip to the Greasy Spoon and off to our rack for 4-5 hours, rinse and repeat for as many days/weeks were needed. Hot refuels and crew changes, sometimes shut down for SOAP (oil samples), day and night all weather. 195 sonar usually in active mode during the 1970s, no ASW involvement of any transiting aircraft apart from a visual lookout.

824NAS developed a fog approach for Ark (R09) which had us as the only flying ops for a week once when everything else was grounded with vis <100 yards: I lucked out with the first one 'for real' and learned a few wrinkles, not the least being that you couldn't see the rounddown until very close and a light was needed. The ships steaming light didn't work and couldn't be fixed so the solution was to park a flight deck tractor with the headlamps on, facing aft! Also the splash target was streamed at a quarter of a mile plus the quarterdeck sentry put out flame floats to mark the ships wake.

Crew composition for 824/Ark Royal was ~1.5 crews per aircraft, IIRC, with seven Sea Kings. Not sure what the Op Corporate manning was, but I believe single pilot ops were authorised: someone else can confirm or correct that.
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Old 19th Oct 2019, 16:39
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To All,

There have been some really good inputs to this thread (not including mine), thanks for awakening some old memories. Perhaps a couple of other observations might help underline what the RN's ASW crews and maintainers achieved down south in 82:

The RN's planning assumptions for the Sea King ASW squadrons were (I have been told) that a 'ripple 3' could be maintained safely for 14 days. (This was, I understood, derived from the Cold War scenario where our main task would be to get supply convoys from the US across the pond whilst fighting off the Soviet submarine hordes. Perhaps someone out there can confirm this). This also assumed that the squadron had enough maintainers to work in two watches, usually 8 hours on, 8 hours off. It also assumed 1.5 crews per aircraft. It was intended that a squadron would be 'stood down' after 14 days to allow exhausted crews and maintainers to recover. However, as ever, assumptions aren't always quite right.

Our squadron sailed with 9 aircraft, plus 2 additional 'Fleet Immediate Reserves', making a total of 11. We sailed with 14 crews. Once the two FIRs were sent across to Hermes, we were at or near the 1.5 crews per aircraft target. However, as I've previously posted, we were tasked with a 'Ripple 3 ASW plus a 1 line Surface Search' requirement. This 'upped the ante' quite considerably. It also became abundantly clear that were were not going to be able to stand down after 14 days. It's a mark of the absolutely outstanding leadership that our ship and squadron enjoyed, the endurance and excellence of our crews, plus some remarkably well judged decisions on engineering and manpower management, that our squadron maintained the 'ripple' for around 72 days. Yes, seventy-two days. The only major break I can remember is one night when the rain and hail was so torrential that the leading edge strips were flayed off all our rotor blades. I came on watch to find the hangar full of aircraft, water, and maintainers working feverishly to get new strips glued on. During that night, we recovered from no serviceable aircraft to seven, rebuilding the 'ripple' as we went.

The Flag did try to stand us down at least twice at around the 14 day mark. On both occasions, no sooner had we shut down than we were told that we had to get airborne again.

The professionalism and resilience of our aircrew was remarkable. As was the leadership displayed at all levels, from our legendary Captain J.J Black down the ship's execs and on to our Squadron CO and execs. We went down there with 9 aircraft, and came back with al our people and the same 9 cabs. I am telling the honest truth when I say that these 9 aircraft were not only fully in date for all servicing and fully serviceable, they were in a better material state than when they had sailed nearly months before. The performance of our maintainers was, once more, remarkable.

I hope these thoughts don't come across as a boast. I played a small role as a young Lieutenant aircraft engineer officer. The real credit belongs to our crews and maintainers who achieved a feat of flying and effort that will probably never be equalled.

However...my very Best Regards as ever to the maintainers and crew of today's Fleet Air Arm who would, I have absolutely no doubt, be able to replicate our efforts.

Engines

Last edited by Engines; 19th Oct 2019 at 17:17.
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Old 8th Nov 2019, 14:12
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Hello all,

Another question. This photo (borrowed from a very interesting thread at Britmodeller.com) shows the weapons fit of a 820 NAS Sea King HAS.5 at RNAS Culdrose, around 1981. I have doubts about some of the weapons (the ones circled). What is that? Thanks in advance!
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Old 8th Nov 2019, 16:19
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Red tail white body items next to the WE 177 trolley are smoke and flame floats. Very occasionally loaded to a light series carrier. More often just hand launched through the top of the personnel door or out of the main door.
N
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Old 9th Nov 2019, 00:43
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Isn't the one nearest the Sea King the same as the one on the other side named as a sonar bouy?

and the little ones are

https://www.dowtyheritage.org.uk/con...owty-sonobuoys
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Old 9th Nov 2019, 04:06
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Originally Posted by Bengo View Post
Red tail white body items next to the WE 177 trolley are smoke and flame floats. Very occasionally loaded to a light series carrier. More often just hand launched through the top of the personnel door or out of the main door.
N
I confess I have never heard of launching the smoke floats from the upper stair door! We never opened thing in flight plus launching an object from there would (almost) guarantee a please explain for the damage to the port sponson.

For a very short while we experimented with removing the top hatch to see if it would help in the heat of the tropics (826NAS in 1971) but it was soon replaced when hot exhaust was brought into the cabin whilst in the hover for ASW
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Old 9th Nov 2019, 16:38
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John

Although nothing to do with ASW, on the mighty Mk4 we did remove the upper personnel door (and the top step of the lower door) some years later to allow a GPMG to be pintle mounted. We looked into a curtain to try and seal the cockpit area off (a bit) to keep the sand out, but it was never very successful

Nick
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Old 9th Nov 2019, 23:46
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It will be nice when the Sea Kings join the airshow circuit with the Lynx, Wessex and Whirlwind.

https://www.historichelicopters.com/
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Old 10th Nov 2019, 11:35
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Looks like F size sonobuoys in the middle of the photo, also some G size ?
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Old 11th Nov 2019, 12:55
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Thanks a lot for the replies!
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