Articles & Case Studies

DIO launches underwater rescue facility at RNAS Yeovilton

Posted: Monday 9th April 2018

Defence Infrastructure Organisation (DIO) supported by Mott MacDonald delivered the new £20m Aircraft/Amphibious Vehicle Underwater Escape & Survival Training (AAVUEST) Facility, commonly known as The Dunker, at RNAS Yeovilton for the Royal Navy through construction contractor Galliford Try Ltd.

The facility is essential for training personnel in escape techniques when aircraft and amphibious vehicles are operated over water and ensures compliance with Military Aviation Authority (MAA) legislation.

The new facility is much more efficient, cost effective and realistic as it has the capacity to deliver the full spectrum of required training, including simulating a range of weather scenarios.

The new building will provide comprehensive training including underwater escape from vehicles and safe ascent to the surface, surviving a ditching scenario, correct conduct of Sea Survival drills on the surface and Search and Rescue Helicopter drills.

In order to facilitate the increase in training the new building incorporates 3 deep training pools which allow for multiple groups to be trained concurrently. The Dunker pool is 5m deep, the Survival Equipment (SE) pool is 4m deep and the Short Term Air Supply System (STASS) pool is 3m deep.

It provides more realistic training including a wide range of simulated weather conditions such as wind, rain and waves in both daytime and night time scenarios. Bespoke modules simulate different types of amphibious vehicles and aircraft.

The facility also includes staff offices, trainee rest areas, changing areas, classrooms, maintenance, packing and storage areas plus significant plant rooms to support.

It was a challenging project requiring creative thinking from both DIO and its contractors. As the building is on a flight path at RNAS Yeovilton it had to go into the ground due to height restrictions placed on the project by Navy air traffic control. In order to keep the building in the ground, ground anchors were required due to the high water table in the area, the building had to be designed to keep water out as well as in!

Despite numerous design and site challenges, including archaeological finds during construction, the team delivered all of these bespoke requirements on time.

The long term future of the facility was also considered throughout design and construction. The building has been designed so that large items of equipment can be removed and replaced from subterranean plant rooms using the large crane which can reach through the building's roof when equipment needs to be replaced in approximately 30 years' time.

Construction of the dunker facility forms part of the MOD's commitment to modernise the military infrastructure and ensure the best possible safety training for the UK;s Armed Forces.

Simon Jones, Senior Project Manager at DIO said: "This facility demonstrates DIO's ability to deliver cost effective, bespoke solutions to our customers and is an essential component of our commitment to world-class military training.

"Our robust framework of technical support providers and contractors allowed us to collaborate with both military and industry partners to deliver this challenging project to specific timescales."

The contract is the third project DIO has awarded through the Next Generation Estates Contracts (NGEC) through the National Capital Works Framework. It is the first project awarded to Galliford Try Ltd through this framework. This approach allows MOD to work more efficiently as pre-selected companies from our framework can be contracted for these bespoke jobs which means we can deliver complex projects on time and on budget.

Keith Yarham, Defence Director for Galliford Try, said: "Working on this project has presented considerable challenges for all of the stakeholders involved and I'm delighted to say we have risen to meet them. It's not often that we get to construct a building as unique as this facility and we are proud to have played our part in creating something that will have a real impact in saving the lives of our service personnel."

James Richards, Mott MacDonald's Project Director, said: "From concept to handover, the Dunker has been a fascinating project to work on. The immense value of training to protect our protectors, has inspired our efforts in tackling the challenges that come from creating a facility to simulate realistic open sea conditions within a safe, controlled environment. Working with the RN, DIO, stakeholders and the contractor has encouraged openness and collaboration which has enabled our understanding and, together, delivered a place to give pilots and crews the best possible preparation for an emergency. This has been a highly worthwhile and rewarding project, and the whole Mott MacDonald team feel extremely proud to have been involved."




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December 2018

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