QinetiQ welcomed the crew of HMS OARDACIOUS to its Haslar Maritime Technology Park in Gosport last Friday prior to the crew’s departure for the Canary Islands and their month-long row across the Atlantic.
Expedition Leader Lieutenant Hugo Mitchell-Heggs and fellow crew members Lieutenant Callum Fraser, Petty Officer Dylan Woods and Leading Engineer Technician Matt Harvey will spend over 30 days at sea, rowing for two hours and resting for two for the entire journey. Their voyage is part of the Talisker Whiskey Atlantic Challenge and the team hope to raise in excess of £100,000 for the Royal Navy and Royal Marines Charity to provide a lasting legacy of mental health and well-being support to the submarine community – serving, retired and families.
The Ocean Basin at Haslar is 5.5m deep with a surface area larger than the pitch at Wembley Stadium - holding 40,000 tonnes of water. Normally used to test scale models of submarines, warships, tankers and yachts, the Ocean Basin also offers an ideal environment to prove HMS OARDACIOUS’s self-righting design and practice capsize drills. The facility is maintained through a long term partnership with UK MOD – the Maritime Strategic Capability Agreement (MSCA) – providing vital support to UK MOD and its subcontractors. The capabilities are also used to support wider international defence programmes and for providing a unique environment to develop future scientists and engineers through STEM related activities.
Lieutenant Hugo Mitchell-Heggs said, “We’re proud to be the first ever official Royal Navy team to attempt this Atlantic crossing, and even more so for showcasing the Royal Navy submarine service in this unique environment. It’s been a busy 15 months of preparation; we’ve trained relentlessly, both on the water and in the gym to face the physical and mental aspects of the challenge ahead. None of this would have been possible without the support of our defence enterprise and affiliates who have sponsored the HMS OARDACIOUS campaign. Thank you to the team at QinetiQ Haslar who volunteered their time to help; our capsize drill and time spend in the Ocean basin has been invaluable to building our confidence in our ocean rowing boat and trusting its self-righting characteristics. To find out more about the team, the challenge or to follow our journey please visit www.hmsoardacious.com where you can sign up for updates or make a charitable donation to our cause.”
Ocean Basin Facility Manager Nick Penn said, “QinetiQ’s Ocean Basin is one of the biggest in the world capable of such accurate measurement of models in a range of simulated sea states. We also use the facility to support STEM related activities such as our annual model power boat racing competition with local school children and the biennial international human powered submarine races. We were delighted to be able to help the crew of HMS OARDACIOUS, in their planned endeavour and their mission to raise money for a charity close to the hearts of many of us in QinetiQ”.
HMS OARDACIOUS departs from La Gomera in December arriving in Antigua a month, and 4,800km, later.