Chinooks Provide Vital Support to Snowbound Northern Ireland

Chinooks from Odiham were scrambled to Northern Ireland over Easter in an effort to help feed stranded livestock in areas affected by heavy snowfall.

The two RAF Chinooks, flown by crews from both 18 and 27 Sqns, were called to assist the civilian authorities in Northern Ireland after heavy snowfall caused travel chaos, leaving livestock stranded with no means to feed them. The initial tasking came in on 25th March 2013 and the first aircraft was rapidly deployed the following morning to an initial staging post of JHCFS Aldergrove. Support personnel from both Engineering and Logistics Wing and Joint Helicopter Support Squadron were also sent to provide support to the operation, which lasted until 29th March 2013.

Flt Lt Dean Curt, of 27 Sqn, said, “We were to ferry silage and hay bales along with buckets of feed internally and drop these supplies off in the hills of County Antrim in the north of the province and County Down in the south.”

A liaison officer from the Department of Agriculture provided vital assistance to the operation by guiding the aircraft into dropping the correct amount of feed and silage at the appropriate places.

Flt Lt Curt said, “The news spread far and wide and more and more people contacted the liaison personnel to ask for assistance. The job didn’t go unnoticed by the government either, as the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland, Theresa Villiers MP, visited us on the second day to thank us for the work being done.“

Gen Sir David Richards, CDS, said in a letter following the incident, “Your impressive efforts helped relieve the suffering of countless stranded animals and in so doing helped protect rural livelihoods.”

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