Documentary following life on the English Channel. A maintenance crew have to inch their way through a seaway obstacle course, and a group of students get a taste of navy life.
Browse content similar to Episode 10. Check below for episodes and series from the same categories and more!
Stretching from Land's End to Dover,
this is the busiest seaway in the world.
And come hell or high water...
Three, two, one. Firing!
No amount of training can ever prepare you for what
we faced that night.
..it's open for business 365 days a year.
Over 90% of the world's trade travels by sea.
It's not just TVs and refrigerators, it's everything around us.
Teeming with every type of vessel...
Everyone on board reckons their job is the hardest.
..and a rich diversity of wildlife.
It's kept safe by those who patrol its seaways.
Just throw your line to the boat!
Their actions standing between triumph...
Ease off! Ease off!
..on the unpredictable waters of the English Channel.
Today, a maintenance crew have to inch their way through
a seaway obstacle course.
The nature of our job is to go into areas
where other shipping shouldn't go, because it's too dangerous.
So we go in, we mark the dangers, and then we come back out again.
A group of university students get a taste of Navy life.
-You're not supposed to have this.
And a team of builders take on a challenging restoration,
two miles out at sea.
It's going off the edge.
The Channel is a vast, maritime highway,
with up to 500 vessels on the water at any time...
from pleasure boats to supertankers -
it's a vital waterway for the British economy.
Lighthouses and navigation buoys
help keep vessels from running aground.
The job of maintaining these crucial towers of light on land
and sea has fallen to an organisation called Trinity House.
It was set up over 500 years ago by Henry VIII.
One of their flagships is the Galatea,
specifically built to look after today's lighthouses and buoys.
Whatever the weather, the ship is out making the seas safe.
Primarily, Galatea is designed to be a buoy tender,
and lighthouse tender. She's got a big crane on the back
for lifting buoys out the water,
she's got chain holds for pulling the buoy chain into.
She's got a helicopter pad for working lighthouses.
The work we do in the English Channel is very important
because it's one of the most busy shipping lanes in the world.
Today, there's an urgent callout,
and they head up the east coast from the Channel.
Everyone ready to go?
A light on one of the buoys isn't working,
and it's marking the entranceway to the Thames Estuary,
one of the busiest shipping lanes in the area.
The potential for disaster is huge,
so the crew urgently needs to repair it.
Like the cat's-eyes in a road,
marker buoys are designed to be visible day and night
to keep shipping safe.
The team head straight out to the stricken buoy, known as a casualty.
First one we're going to look at
is the casualty, the Fisherman 3.
So, it gives you all the basic
information about the buoy -
the light, the characteristic, the chain, the length.
And then I'll go down onto the deck and will brief all the crew,
and then we'll crack on with the job.
As the crew get suited and booted, they have no idea what's wrong
with the buoy they'll be pulling up onto the deck.
It's reported that it's unlit.
This type of buoy,
we know they tend to have a common fault.
They can get a bit of water inside, and it just shorts the electrics,
and burns out the regulator.
So, that then runs the batteries down and it goes unlit.
The consequences of us not maintaining the aids to navigation
would involve more shipping casualties.
Most of the UK's goods, if you like, come in by sea -
oil and all the stuff on the supermarket shelves.
If a major port got blocked, for example,
the shelves would run out of food within a few days.
The captain's second-in-command is Sophie Platten.
She's been at sea for 13 years,
and began her career as a cadet on container ships.
I'm in charge of the daily running of the ship,
including the maintenance. In charge of the buoy-working deck.
Supporting the captain when required
and ensuring that, you know, everything runs smoothly.
Copy that, that's the anchor aweigh.
Something that I wanted to do since I was quite young.
Always fancied, you know, a job with a difference.
I think...this job definitely is that, you know.
I do enjoy that every day is different,
and that you can progress, you know,
keep working up through the ranks, as well.
You're up on the Galatea, good morning, that's us...
The Galatea's reached the casualty buoy.
Approaching the casualty now, I'm just manoeuvring the ship.
I'm going to turn the ship around in the tide.
The batteries could've failed, the lantern could've failed...
It's clearly not been hit, now we can see it.
We're going to pick it up and do some tests on it
and find out what's wrong with it.
While the captain keeps the Galatea alongside the buoy,
Sophie's in charge of the operation on deck.
So, guys, we have we've come here to Fisherman 3,
casualty buoy, been reported unlit.
So we'll bring it in. It's got 25 metres of 32mm chain.
Three metre bridle, and a three tonne sinker.
Just do our standard work, disconnect it,
and work out why it's unlit.
Right? Let's get this job done.
The buoy is hoisted alongside.
It's a bit awkward, isn't it?
The team need to work quickly to find the problem.
Every minute it's out of the water is a hazard for shipping.
The Fisherman 3 is green,
because it marks the left side of a shipping lane.
We need to secure it to the working chain, so that way
when we break the buoy, we'll be able to heave all the cable up.
Any part of the buoy below the surface
makes a good breeding ground for mussels.
So, we've disconnected the buoy from the cable, and
now we're going to heave the rest of the cable in and pick the sinker up.
We're going to calibrate the cable as we bring it in.
We're checking the thickness of the chain.
The sinker is a three tonne metal weight
that sits on the seabed to keep the buoy in place.
It's connected to the buoy by a chain, but it's
so heavy they need to take precautions in case the chain snaps.
If the chain were to run off at all,
it's going to come all the way across the deck here.
Could take people's feet out, break legs, anything.
It's a fair jump, isn't it?
The chain can wear out if any slack drags along the seabed.
They need to make sure it's still thick enough to hold
the buoy in place. So they check its width, known as the "thrash".
Got a thrash of 28½.
-'28½, and it's gone down...
'1½ in one year and four months.
-'So, I think it'll be fine, won't it?'
It looks like it'll last another year.
We've just calibrated the chain.
It's got a thrash that we're happy with, it's within our limits,
so we're going to keep it.
But it's just slipping on our gypsy, so were going to bring
a second working chain up, just to help us heave it up.
Just be careful there, Ellis.
With the extra chain attached...
Just get it the other side, Wes, that's it.
..they have enough grip
for the winch to pull the three-tonne sinker on board.
While they wait for the sinker to arrive,
the team try to work out why the buoy's not lighting up.
Have you got the solar tester there?
Bo's'n Ryan's not impressed.
Those batteries don't look great, do they?
They've not been greased or anything, have they?
-There's no Vaseline on them at all, or anything like that.
So we'll have a good tidy up.
Cos the regulator's burnt-out,
there's no input from the solar panel,
so the batteries aren't being charged at all.
When the light's running, it's just constantly draining the battery,
so it's eventually going to run the batteries out.
While they replace the batteries and service the buoy,
the sinker finally emerges from the water.
It looks like a giant bath plug.
On closer inspection,
the bottom of the chain is really worn where it's been dragging
against the rocks on the seabed, and they decide to take no chances.
It's now gone under the limits that we think is acceptable,
so we're going to change it out for a new chain.
This will eat up vital minutes, so they need to get a move on.
The new chain comes in 100 metre lengths,
so they have to cut to size.
And there's more work than they thought to be done on the buoy.
Just checking the voltage of the batteries.
They've only got about three volts on them,
so these are both dead, well and truly.
Just strip it right out,
we'll try and get rid of the old regulator
as well, if we can get that off.
Once we've got the new batteries in, we can see
-whether this regulator's working.
-Exactly. Yeah, cool.
It's not just the batteries that are gone.
We've got a problem with one of the solar panels,
so we're in the process of changing that over.
Once that's been changed, were going to connect it all up.
We'll be testing the light and, er, it should be good.
The buoy's in need of a complete overhaul.
With another job on the horizon, they need to get finished fast.
With new batteries and a new solar panel, the light is back in action.
Yep, all happy.
With the final checks in place,
it's time to get the buoy back in the water.
Yep, it's all done, all working correctly.
But there's no rest for the team as they're already
on their way to the next buoy.
And it looks tricky.
The English Channel has a long history
in the defence of Britain against invasion.
British forces still patrol this important border,
keeping warships in operation to be deployed at a moment's notice,
regulating fishing vessels and aiding border control
intercepting narcotics and contraband.
Thrust to port, step three.
But every hardened mariner has to start the journey somewhere.
The Navy train recruits from as young as 16 years of age.
And today, a group of eager university students
are getting a taste of Navy life.
I'm considering joining the Royal Navy as a hydrographic officer.
This is a great way to find out what the Navy does when it's at sea.
It's a great way to find out
what you're signing yourself up to.
Ready fender for'ards!
The potential recruits are taking part in a simulated
counternarcotics and people smuggling exercise.
It's a task the Navy takes on for real
while on active duty round the world.
My team had a success on a vessel
smuggling heroin, and it was the first time heroin
was ever found in the maritime
domain, in the Indian Ocean.
And now vessels are out in the Indian Ocean,
from all over the world, are finding these smuggled drugs.
We have very strict procedures we need to carry out,
and it's very important we stick within the legal
guidelines of the United Nations, and our own rules of engagement.
Lieutenant Palmer is hoping today's challenge will give the students
an insight into the skills they might need if they join up.
I've based this scenario on operations that we carry out
day-to-day in the Navy,
that ships are out, currently conducting these operations.
It's developing their interpersonal skills,
and focusing on their teamwork and leadership.
It's exposing them to things
they probably wouldn't get to do in normal life.
SHIP ALARM BEEPS
OK, let's go ahead.
A lot of the time the students will struggle with
the military aspect of being on the boat and the unit.
It's quite a tough transition to go from being a student
to actually trying to be in the military.
We've started commencing the Solent Storm exercise now.
There are 64 students across two patrol ships -
HMS Smiter and HMS Puncher - a supporting RIB and seven yachts.
Each of which have been positioned out in the Solent
by the Navy commanders.
The exercise is to police the waters,
and locate and identify any suspicious yachts that may be
conducting illegal activity, such as smuggling drugs or people.
The students will be observed by 12 Navy training officers.
Up top, where the captain is, they will be looking out to make sure
that they know where the vessel is, and manoeuvring safely towards it.
Whereas these are here to support
and provide extra information to the command team.
Because these are like an extra set of eyes.
So, we have the charts down here,
the radar, and the ship's log.
So the job here is to provide support to upstairs.
I'd like to go to 3110...
We've found one of the yachts with the other set of students on.
And we've identified it as one of the...
We've got an intelligence picture of one of these yachts,
and we've identified that this is one of the yachts were looking for.
Just tell him we have a yacht on our port beam, we're going to ask
some questions, can you head over and take a look at them for us?
Amongst today's young trainees, and in charge of communication
on this first yacht search,
is 21-year-old chemistry student Jessie Tucker.
Jessie must instruct the support RIB.
We have a yacht on our port bow...
It is of interest, and we're going to investigate further.
I joined the unit just to do something
a little bit different, to be honest.
It's nice to get away from
the day-to-day life of lectures
and working in the labs, in my case, or the library.
This is Coalition Warship papa 272, over.
-'Coalition Warship, we receive you.'
Now in radio contact with the yacht,
Jessie cross-examines the seafarers to see if anything doesn't add up.
What is the name of your vessel, over?
'The vessel's name is Jet Hannessa.'
What is the registered flag state of your vessel, over?
How many crew are on board, over?
'Erm, three - no, four. Four.
-'Oh, sorry, five.'
It's up to you now to make that decision
of what you think about this yacht.
Can you confirm that there are
three to five passengers on the vessel?
-Confirm the number of passengers...
-Yes, that's a very helpful question.
Under the United Nations Law of the Sea,
a warship can verify the flag of any vessel on the high seas.
-'Flag flying currently is British, over.'
Things that indicate to us that something's not right
and we need to go and investigate that, OK?
So, what is our tripwire here?
Our tripwire is that they've stated to us that they're
-flying the Spanish national flag.
However, we've got a confirmed
-sighting from our RIB that they're actually find the British flag.
Therefore, we can board the vessel to check their documents.
Yeah, and the other thing is, their crew numbers are a bit dodgy,
So we know from United Nations Security Council Resolution 1279
that there is people smuggling, drug smuggling
and piracy in this area. So there are two tripwires there.
Now, the best way of doing this, to not get them so anxious,
is to go for the flag state verification.
Then we can have a further look around
if we think there's something suspicious.
Sir, I intend to conduct a routine boarding of your vessel under
United Nations section on the Law of the Sea, Article 110 in order to
verify the flag state of your yacht.
Please turn into wind and reduce your speed to a minimum.
Do not make any external communications with anyone
other than this warship.
Do not throw anything overboard during this process.
I'm sending my boarding team via RIB. Over.
'OK, we've received you, over.'
Now he's caught,
I'd say they're making the boarding now, which is fine.
They'll have to check the documents of the yacht, check that the flag
state refers to what they told us when we've VHF radio called them.
They'll also then have to go through the compartments
and have a good search around, once they're given authorisation,
see if they can find any narcotics or any other contraband.
Below deck, the navigational team must plot the exact coordinates
of the suspect yacht for Navy records.
-I want this marking on the chart, with the time and the position.
What we're doing here,
is we're noting down in the ship's log where we are, a grid reference...
-Happy on radar.
Great. So that we know where we were.
We've noted down the name of the yacht, and the fact that the RIB has
boarded it, and the time, so that it's there for records later.
The RIB team have checked the vessel for any illegal activity,
and they were right to be suspicious.
Stand by to conduct cargo transfer.
The unit have discovered a suspect package.
The handover is complete,
and Jessie's first patrol mission is a success.
Puncher, Smiter, all copy, the whole visual.
Jessie's done really well this morning with her radio call.
And by the end of it was very confident.
I'm really, really impressed by that performance there.
After a fruitful operation, the patrol ship
and its Navy students continue the search exercise
across the Solent for more illegal activity.
Would you hold your course, then we'll come round?
The English Channel may now be an accessible route for all
seafarers, but was once a natural defence halting invading armies.
In the middle of the Solent stand four Victorian sea forts.
Built in the late 1800s to protect
Portsmouth from attack by Napoleon III's forces,
they're now being put to a more welcoming use.
One of the largest, No Man's Fort, is nearing the end
of a two-year refurbishment to turn it into a luxury offshore hotel.
And in just a week's time, it's due to open for business.
The man at the helm of this unique challenge
is project manager Ian Fitzpatrick.
I am up against it,
I've got till next Friday to get everything completed,
so a busy few days. All the lads are aware of it.
We know what we've got to do, we've just got to get on and do it.
Getting everything complete, everything signed off,
and everything certificated.
Hopefully, this time next week, we'll be just about there -
But this is not your average building site.
No Man's Fort originally cost £460,000 to build back in the 1870s.
Decommissioned by the Navy in the 1960s, restoring this
Grade II listed property is a multimillion pound operation.
The 35-strong team has been
working round the clock on the refurbishment,
which will include 22 bedrooms, a cabaret bar, sauna,
two helipads and its very own lighthouse.
When I applied to be a fire alarm engineer, I thought
I'd be out on land all the time. Being out at sea
is a bit new to me. It's not like the normal commute,
normally doing jobs in and around London.
Whereas this is all preplanned,
you've got to meet someone at the port
and then get onto the boat to get here.
It's a 30 minute daily boat ride.
Two miles out at sea, these maritime monuments were tactically
positioned so that any enemy vessels wishing to attack would be
forced to sail between the forts, and be bombarded by heavy cannons.
But times have changed, and today's battle is to arm the fort
with two heavy-duty bits of kit.
We've got two hot tubs coming,
and we're going to put them up onto the rooftop.
The hot tubs are going to turn up on a barge.
As they approach the landing stage,
we'll strap them up,
lift them off with our hoist onto the first ground level, then
from there, they get lifted onto our gantry, and go onto the rooftop.
Using the crane in these conditions is fine,
when the sea's like this it's not a problem at all.
Soon as you get a bit of a swell on the water, or we have the big
freightliners go past - you need to see them in the distance.
If you see the freightliner coming, the barge'll pull off,
and you get lots of aborted trips. Lots of aborted deliveries.
Man-days lost due to bad weather and stormy seas.
The weather can change within hours.
I can go from a flat, calm sea like I've got today,
to a force six, which basically takes our boat off the water.
The unpredictability of the weather is not the only problem
the team face.
This sea-based citadel has its own set of issues
in getting materials on and off site.
It's not just a simple...
On a normal building site, you get something delivered easy.
On here, if it's got to come to the roof,
it has to be hand pulled up.
I mean, we've only had this a couple of weeks now.
Everything else has been brought up here by hand.
-It's made life a bit easier, this crane.
-A bit easier.
A simple delivery would take a couple of days to do, wouldn't it?
It's a joint effort. I'd say the hot tubs will be harder cos...
-They're bigger and a more awkward shape. Aren't they?
We haven't decided how we're going to get them up here.
They're going to come out this way, it's just getting them
over the edge of this banister, really.
Can't carry them up a spiral staircase,
so you've got to come all the way up and we've got to try
and slide them along over here without damaging the side of them.
Renovating a 150-year-old structure is hard at the best of times
but doing it in the middle of the ocean holds unique challenges.
The eight-tonne blocks of concrete
and stone that help to form its 27ft foundations were
brought out by barge and eased into position by divers.
Rising 18 metres above sea level, the steep,
circular walls are 15ft thick and reinforced with iron plating.
Ideal for repelling invaders
but not for bringing on bulky building materials.
The Fort's location is also proving a challenge for operations manager,
Rob Seddon, whose job includes overseeing the interiors.
Just having to work out the position.
They're bringing the RIB out as well.
I need a couple of more hands tomorrow, we're going to try
and get some more staff in to help us,
some more labourers, electricians, whoever we need.
I'm just going to wander around now, check some of the bedrooms.
The biggest thing for us is logistics and deliveries.
I got a phone call today saying all the dressings for the day beds
should be here Tuesday, Wednesday.
If it's going to be Tuesday, it'll be Wednesday, OK?
When they arrive, we need to get the logistics so it gets onto the boat.
When it gets off the boat, I make sure it's put into the rooms.
Gets put into the rooms, I make sure the beds get dressed.
So, if it arrives on Wednesday and we open on Saturday,
everything gets really angsty.
Hot tubs came out today, fantastic. All the railway sleepers here.
It's just a matter of getting everything onto the roof
and getting it all put in place.
But organising the finishing touches
isn't the only job on Rob's daily agenda.
Cos of the size of the Fort and the amount of people
we have on here, we've got to run boats to and from every day.
In the evening, we work out how many staff we have going off,
so we have to work out how many boats we have to run,
so we either do one boat, two boats, three boats when it's really busy.
Then we have to plan the timing as well cos the boat driver
can't drive after dark.
General manager, Mark Watts, is explaining to the Fort's new
manager, Jason Ward, how it will run when the resort opens.
So you can have up to 60 people around this whole lighthouse area,
up and down it, so we want to be serving canapes out here
and making sure it's all dressed properly.
You've got a bar just behind me, here.
-This is the main atrium, here.
These lamps, we have brought across, they are authentic
but we're going to put one on the roof, here, next week, if we can.
This helipad, here, I'm converting to be able to do golf from here.
-You've got biodegradable
fish food golf balls and they'll be...
You can drive them off into the sea, there.
-This brings us into the cabaret bar, here.
We'll have the parties here, with up to 200 people in here.
I've got some work to do in here, then.
With only a few days left before No Man's Fort is due to be
completed, Jason is looking forward to starting work.
-Coming out, enjoy the views.
-Another great view,
look at that.
At this stage, you always worry
if you're going to start on time or finish on time.
I think we can do it. There's been work going on
for a couple of years.
This last bit is always the bit that worries people
but we'll be there, we'll be open.
The build team are preparing for the delivery of two luxury hot tubs.
It's never that easy.
Knowing our luck, they'll probably come flat pack.
Don't say that, we'll have to put them together.
Luckily, today, the seas are calm for the hot tubs' arrival
and it's time the team got to work.
To lift the 26st tubs onto the roof of this 60ft tall fort,
the team will use the winch.
The straps are safely secured
and the first hot tub slowly rises off the barge.
We'll get Stevie to cut it off and then bale it off.
They're big, them.
the hot tub has made it to the first floor without a hitch.
-Are you all right?
Shorten these drops, lower that, and try to manoeuvre it over
and out the way.
But getting it on the roof using the localised crane is
when the problems start.
We need to bring that back into that gantry, further towards the fence.
-Out that way.
-Out that way?
But the shape isn't the only concern.
The A-frame on the roof, that holds the winch, isn't tall enough,
which means the hot tub won't make it over the rail,
a headache that contract supervisor, Steve Wilson, doesn't need.
Obviously, with the area... We've got to get it up and over.
So, yeah, it's not an easy task. No, we need to shorten these.
The team decide to shorten the straps to raise the tub
higher on the winch.
It's never straightforward.
But it's still not high enough.
Having worked on the project for the last eight months,
-Steve is used to the challenges.
-It's a lot smaller than
the big stuff that's bringing it off the boat.
-You're not going to get four of them in there, are you?
First time you try it and you fail, you try again. You re-rig it,
you look at it and you try and get it up. Nothing seems to go
first time on here, you always have to try and adapt it to get it up.
Because obviously, you've only got a small area to work
and you've got the crane above you
and you've got to get it past the crane, so, yeah, it's quite awkward.
The build team decide to push the crane up to its maximum height.
-'Bring it back down and it'll rise far enough.'
-Go on, then, one more.
No, move, move ,move.
-'Are you ready?'
'OK, lower it down.'
-They're not that heavy, they're just awkward.
-It's going to work.
It has to, it's the only option we've got now.
If not, it's going to be extreme lifting.
The hot tub has reached the distance
but the only way to slide it over the rail is to take
the brakes off the frame and wheel the heavy tub into position.
It's going to be a very tricky manoeuvre.
-Is the break off?
-Yeah, the brake's off.
-It's going off the edge.
With a 26st hot tub hanging over the Solent,
the last thing they want is for the frame to fall off the platform.
Can you and Kev come and give us a hand up here for a minute, mate?
Steve Wilson, call back.
-There you go.
Taking the brakes off.
-Have you got it?
After a hair-raising five minutes,
the hot tub is finally on the top deck.
It's been a mammoth effort but the team has done it.
I'm going to have to sort that out now.
20 minutes that they've taken to be up here
so we'll start installing them.
Got to have them in by the end of the day.
It's not like a normal Monday to Friday nine to five,
we're in the lap of the gods.
Every day is totally different.
And when you talk to people, "What do you do for a living?"
"I work on a fort in the middle of the ocean." It's a bit, "You what?"
When you bring up pictures and show them, it blows people's minds.
It really does blow people's minds.
With just a week left before they're due to open,
the team is just hoping the weather stays on their side.
The fierce tides and choppy seas of the English Channel make it
an excellent base for naval manoeuvres and exercises.
Giving potential new recruits a taste of naval life.
Strategically positioned Portsmouth is a hub of naval power that
has defended the UK over centuries.
And today, 64 university students have reported for duty.
They're taking part in a simulated counternarcotics
and smuggling exercise but a real emergency has come up.
-'The yacht in question is now
'one nautical mile on my starboard quarter.
'Request assistance to transport casualty to Cowes.'
I'll send the RIB over now, over.
The student skipper on another boat has been injured.
-Right foot. Metatarsals. That's what we believe.
Just be careful coming onto the boat.
-I'm going to put my foot up in the air...
-..and go in towards it.
-Just support it.
It's a reminder that life at sea is unpredictable
and potentially dangerous.
I can't stand up because of this foot.
My foot got caught under a rope and it just got wedged.
It's silly. INDISTINCT RADIO TRANSMISSION
-Love you lots!
-See you in half an hour.
-See you tomorrow!
Good news is she's in a taxi and she's on the way to hospital.
If all things are good, then she'll be back with us tonight.
Maybe just a sprain, let's live in hope.
Back on the pilot ship,
the students are rotating their roles to broaden their experience.
We're about to put Jessie on a RIB
and they're going to become part of the boarding team
and they get on the yacht, so they'll be looking for any
suspicious packaging, any extra personnel.
For example, for the exercise, there might be some people smuggling.
They have to be quite careful on the RIB
because they'll bounce around a lot in this sea.
Also, when they get onto the yachts, lots and lots of metal
and stuff, which are quite hazardous.
They have to be quite careful when they're going around.
I'll ask them what their nationalities are.
Ask them if they're carrying anything they're not supposed to be
carrying and then report back to HMS Puncher.
INDISTINCT CHATTER ON BOAT
On board the suspect yacht, the students have clear instructions.
Yeah, we've been told to sail about in this area
and act slightly suspiciously.
Are you ready to be boarded?
FROM YACHT: Are you boarding?
Guys, are you ready to hop on the yacht, please?
-Good luck finding it. If there's anything!
-We don't have anything.
Nothing to hide here.
This may not be a real-life callout but the unit boarding
the vessel must still be aware of the potential dangers...
such as the suspects carrying weapons
or the boat being booby-trapped.
But the students aren't deterred, and the hidden goods are discovered.
And it's rocket, just not the explosive type.
You're not supposed to have this.
-So, yes, I found some...
..suspicious packages that they're not supposed to be holding.
So that was a successful search, I suppose.
It's been a triumphant training day for Jessie
and the other students. And the good news doesn't end there.
Unfortunately, I caught a rope on my foot.
I'm all good, no broken bones, just a bit swollen on the foot. All good.
Keeping accidents at bay in the English Channel is crucial
so that the ports and trade routes can remain open.
If a port were to close,
supermarkets would run out of food in a matter of days.
The navigational buoys in the English Channel help mark
the danger areas in these waters,
ultimately keeping the country supplied with goods.
It falls to Trinity House vessel, the Galatea,
to maintain these aides to navigation.
Fresh from repairing one nautical buoy, the Galatea is
onto its next mission, a routine check in a very problematic area.
It's a very hazardous environment to drive a ship into,
there's lots of fixed structures.
If anything went wrong with the ship's equipment or the engines
failed or anything like that, we'd need to get out pretty sharpish.
There's a lot of things we can hit in there.
The nature of our job is to go into areas where other shipping
shouldn't go because it's too dangerous.
So, we go in, we mark the dangers and then we come back out again.
That's what we're trained to do.
But guiding 84 metres of floating steel through an aquatic
slalom course is no time for complacency.
Done it lots of times before, yeah.
Still doesn't... You still can't get too confident, though.
Just always be on your guard.
It's fun. It's the dangerous stuff that I like doing, you know?
And it's not just the static white power generators to be avoided.
Can you just keep an eye, as we're moving in,
on these wind farm boats, make sure none of them are getting close?
Last thing I want to do is get in a situation with one of those
while we're surrounded by turbines.
They're even ready for an emergency stop.
Ship on standby for boarding, thank you.
We'll get the PO, petty officer, to stand by on the deck,
ready to drop the anchor, just in case we lose power.
The thing we've got to remember with that is not to drop
it on top of one of the cables. Lots of electric cables on the seabed.
Moving in, now, Martin. Coming ahead.
Captain Wayne Durrant uses all his years of experience
to reach the buoy.
Keep a nice little bit of movement ahead
and let the tide just push me in between the two turbines.
So we're actually using the elements to achieve what I need,
rather than fighting the elements to achieve what I need.
It's a bit like driving a shopping trolley.
But with a buoy nestled between metal pylons,
precision's required and instruments need referring to.
This is done on a positioning system which basically allows me
to keep the ship in one place...
..in basic terms, and just move in increments
and turn the head in increments at whatever speed I like.
I sit here and tell it what to do and I've got to monitor it but in
all reality, the computer's actually driving the ship at the moment.
It helps us to work in a lot rougher conditions
because it can maintain the ship's heading, to keep
the wind on one side while the guys are working on the other.
That's really, really handy for us as a lighthouse service.
The positioning system means the approach can be ultra slow.
I'm moving in slowly to the buoy at about a knot.
And I'm just checking all my reference systems -
my gyros are still in line,
wind sensors are still working and the motion sensor systems
on the ship are still working and all tying up.
Basically making sure nothing's going wrong. We could have a blackout.
The generators could trip out, we could have a thruster failure,
we could have position failure.
With the Galatea safely alongside the buoy,
the work on deck can begin.
Right, let's have a look at what we've got.
This is the Long Sand middle buoy.
It marks an area of deep water where ships can safely pass through
the wind farm.
Red-coloured buoys mark the right-hand side
of a shipping channel as you enter from open sea.
What we've done is we've brought it on deck, calibrated the chain.
We're just about the check the sinker but our job, here
today, is to change the lantern over,
so that's just what the lads are starting to do now.
They'll disconnect the old one,
lower that down and then we'll get the new one up to them.
Connect it all up, check it all works.
Back over the side, onto the next job.
The organisation has to visit all the buoys on a regular basis
to make sure they accurately mark hazards.
Trinity House make sure that they're proactive rather than reactive.
You don't want to get to a point where you've let the chain wear
too thin and it would drift,
cos that would be a danger to the mariner.
We make sure that we change things ahead of time
so they stay in position, where they should be.
They need to check the solar power system is working
so the flashing light will be sufficiently charged
and seen at night and in bad weather.
Flash character of this one is ISO two, that's every two seconds
and basically, the flash character is just
the pattern of the flashes that the buoy has to be programmed.
With the new unit in place,
it needs to be lowered down and bolted to the rest of the buoy.
I think that's for scrap.
For the captain, it's been a successful mission
but there's one last thing to do.
Wipe its backside and then put it back in and off we go.
Yep, good to go.
The buoy can be returned to its post,
marking the deep water through the wind farm.
For the team, every buoy serviced keeps the sea safe for all mariners.
Yes, very successful job.
Everybody did really well and, yep, got the job done and now,
onto the next job.
With the mission complete, the teams sit down for a well-deserved meal
but they can't rest for long.
They have to be on call, to maintain and mend lighthouses
and buoys, 365 days a year.
A maintenance crew have to inch their way through a seaway obstacle course, a group of university students get a taste of navy life and a team of builders take on a challenging restoration two miles out at sea.
The Channel is a vast maritime highway with up to 500 vessels on the water at anytime, and it's a vital waterway for the British economy. The lighthouses and navigation buoys which help keep vessels from running aground are managed and maintained by an organisation called Trinity House, which was set up over 500 years ago by Henry VIII. The crew of their flagship vessel, THV Galatea, are carrying out urgent repair work on a buoy with a broken light and have to edge their way through an offshore windfarm.
The Channel has also long been a base and training ground for the Royal Navy in all its many roles. Over a winter weekend, a group of eager university students get a chance to experience naval life. They take command of HMS Smiter and HMS Puncher in a simulated counter-narcotics-and-people-smuggling exercise. When a real incident occurs, they learn first-hand that a life at sea can be unpredictable and hazardous.
While the Royal Navy are at the forefront of the modern-day military, in the middle of the Solent stand four Victorian sea forts whose defensive role is now defunct. Built in the 1870s to protect Portsmouth against Napoleon III's forces, the largest of them, No Man's Fort, is nearing the end of a multimillion-pound refurbishment to turn it into a luxury hotel - complete with 22 bedrooms, helipads, a sauna and cabaret bar. For the build team involved in the restoration, this particular work site has some unique challenges, particularly when it comes to hoisting two 26-stone hot tubs 60 feet up to the top of the fort.