The Cambridgeshire Army unit that sent a reservist on exercise aboard an aircraft carrier

A reservist with 135 Geographic Squadron, which trains out of RAF Wyton in Cambridgeshire, has just returned from 4 months on an aircraft carrier running F-35 trials. Kaami, a local reservist, said: “It was the opportunity of a lifetime, to live-out my teenage fascination with stealth fighter jets and formidable carriers.”

135 Geographic Squadron RE is the Reserve sub-unit of 42 Engineer Regiment – the Army’s geospatial information, survey and mapping specialists. They have reserves training out of RAF Wyton in Cambridgeshire, and also the Army Reserve Centres in Reading and Ewell.

Kaami joined Exercise WESTLANT on the Queen Elizabeth-class HMS PRINCE OF WALES to test and expand the Ship’s capabilities with the F-35 and various other aircraft, including interoperability with our American allies.

Before setting off, the reservist passed the Royal Navy’s Basic Sea Survival Course. “I met my Regular oppo who would be deploying with me on the course,” said Kaami. He added: “The four-and-a-half day course taught us to navigate a ship’s layout codes, contain flooding, fight fires, survive sinking, and live in a chemical, biological, radiological and nuclear (CBRN) environment.”

Kaami said: “I was surprised by how comfortable and spacious my accommodation was. Our living quarters consisted of a “square” (living room) with TVs and games consoles; four cabins each with six bunks, plenty of storage and another TV; two utility rooms; and the “heads” (toilets/ablutions). The Ship had a café, shop, laundry service, and five gyms.”

Themobilised reservist from 135 Geo Squadron put his geospatial analysis skills in action; producing navigation routes, battlespace management for maritime and airspace training areas, hurricane tracking, search and rescue operating areas, casualty evacuation options and planning charts for global Defence affairs.

This was Kaami’s second overseas exercise deployment, on top of two operational tours, in just four years with 135 Geographic Squadron. “We saw Merlin and Wildcat helicopters, unmanned aircraft, F-35, Dauphins, Ospreys and Sea Stallions from the US. Ship life was good, and I had a chance to leave the Ship and go sight-seeing in the US, including the Blue Ridge Mountains of West Virginia and Nashville Tennessee. To help pass the time on the return journey, I offered a series of geospatial exercises for navy personnel to have a go at our work. I’m always grateful for these adventures available to me in the Reserves, thanks to the dedication of my unit’s staff for arranging it!”

The unit at RAF Wyton attracts budding cartographers and geospatial analysts from around the wider Huntingdon area keen to support Defence Intelligence and gain other skills such as leadership and LGV driver’s licences. There are inviting new people to join their Team as Geographic Technician (Reserves).

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