Ex-forces personnel battle challenges of North Sea in new off-shore wind farm roles

PUBLISHED: 11:40 20 June 2019 | UPDATED: 11:40 20 June 2019

From left, Galloper’s ex-Forces team Richard Holmes, James Weller, Kieron Drew and Mark Annis  Picture: SEANA HUGHES

From left, Galloper’s ex-Forces team Richard Holmes, James Weller, Kieron Drew and Mark Annis Picture: SEANA HUGHES

Seana Hughes/Galloper

Ex-British armed forces personnel have been drafted in to East Anglia’s growing wind farm sector.

Former British Army, Royal Navy and Royal Air Force (RAF) staff transitioning into civilian life are all represented at the Harwich-based 56-turbine Galloper Wind Farm.

Four members of the 60-strong offshore team at the wind farm, which lies 30km off the Suffolk coast, are ex-forces, and face challenging conditions, working under pressure in difficult environments.

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Production manager Kieron Drew served in the British Army commanding force protection, logistical and maintenance operations in Afghanistan and serving in Iraq, Bosnia and Northern Ireland. He serves as an Army Reservist.

"The transferable technical, logistics and engineering skills from the army to offshore wind are important but just as relevant are personal skills such as leadership, physical fitness, and positive attitude," he said.

You need the ability to work under pressure in a hostile environment, be a team player and to maintain high standards, particularly ensuring you properly care for your personal protective equipment."

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Offshore supervisor Mark Annis and offshore technician Richard Holmes were Royal Navy marine engineers.

"I was a chief petty officer where teamwork was crucial and likewise it is also a big part of the offshore wind industry," said Mr Annis. "The ability to work safely and to ensure that you look out for the other members in your team is vital to the success of the wind farm."

Mr Holmes said his offshore experience and engineering background had stood him in good stead.

"Being offshore, working in unpredictable environments and with the fact that both the renewables industry and the armed forces stand for making a better world for our children, I haven't looked back," he said.

Former RAF aircraft technician James Weller said he was attracted to the challenges of the job.

"I worked with various squadrons including the C-130 Hercules, GR4 Tornado and Aircraft Crash Recovery and mechanically, the hydraulic and rotating systems and aerofoils on wind turbine are very similar those used on the aircraft I was used to so transferring over was quite familiar."

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