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Roderic meets the Mayor
Battling in the mist at Seaburn
By site contributor Captain Roderic Yapp RM
Captain Roderic Yapp RM explains how the new role demonstration at the airshow came about and what it was like to be a part of it.
My name is Captain Roderic Yapp RM and I am the Officer Commanding of the Royal Marines Commando Display Team.
I was initially approached by the event organisers at Sunderland City Council after they saw the Commando Display Team conduct a hostage rescue scenario at the Southend Airshow in May.
The weather had really closed in and there was very little flying so in true Royal Marine style we put something together at the last minute to entertain the public who were not put off by the inclement weather.
I spoke to the pilots of the Royal Navy's helicopter display team, The Black Cats, to see if they would be able to fast-rope the marines into a Rigid Raider (speed boat) out at sea and chase down an enemy who had captured a local hostage.
The demonstration went extremely well and so we set about planning something for the Sunderland International Airshow.
From Southend to Seaburn
We knew we were going to have to improve on Southend as the Sunderland International Airshow always draws a large crowd and we were keen to put on the best display possible.
The initial plan was to fast-rope a troop of 28 marines onto an enemy position, which had taken two UN observers hostage.
However due to the mist and low cloud we had to cancel the helicopters and "advance to contact" along the beach. The council had employed a civilian company to rig some explosions to simulate HMS Southampton engaging enemy positions with her guns.
In order to demonstrate the combined arms capability of the Royal Navy there were some large explosions to simulate bombs being dropped by Sea Harriers of the Fleet Air Arm.
For most of the marines, myself included, the last time we took part in a troop attack was in Afghanistan. The only real difference in this instance was that the bullets were not whizzing past in our direction.
For the marines on the team, their current draft to the Commando Display Team is a one year job before they return to the fighting units and deploy once more to operational theatres.
It was a fantastic feeling to be demonstrating the techniques and skills we use on operations to the public who were hugely appreciative of the display.
For myself personally it was a great privilege to meet the Mayor of Sunderland, Councillor Mary Smith, and introduce her to the marines (top picture).
Marching to meet the Mayor
There were eight local lads from Royal Marines Reserve Tyne who proved that they are every bit as capable as the regular forces by taking part in the display and they especially appreciated the opportunity to show their friends and families what they do with the RMR.
We hope that we can return next year to do something as equally impressive and hopefully the weather will be good enough to allow us to fast-rope onto the beach from the helicopters.
For any enquiries regarding booking the Commando Display Team please call Andy Buckley on 07717714421. We would love to return and do an event with a large football club in the local area!
See BBC Wear's pictures and other stories to do with the Sunderland International Airshow by clicking the links below.
last updated: 04/08/2008 at 11:24