MORE than 80 young people are back on the water thanks to repair work carried out by BAE Systems.
A ceremony was held yesterday at the King’s Stairs, Portsmouth Naval Base, to officially hand the work boat back to the Portsmouth Sail Training Trust.
The boat, Falcon, is the trust’s safety launch and works most weekdays in Portsmouth Harbour. She ferries and supports more than 80 young people from disadvantaged areas in Portsmouth as they learn to sail and row.
Since accidental damage in late 2015, Falcon has been off the water, causing a big setback to the trust’s work.
John Gillard, sea school principal, said: ‘It was a difficult time for me and for our young people having to operate without Falcon. She is so much part of all our daily lives.’
The Royal Navy introduced the project to BAE Systems, which put together a team of its staff and suppliers to restore Falcon.
Mr Gillard said: ‘BAE Systems, the Royal Navy and so many local companies have all stepped into the breach. Without their generosity, dedication and expertise, the trust was facing having to let down all the young people we work with for the new season. As a result, though, we have had a great summer.’
The effort ensured Falcon was re-launched in time for Cowes Week, where the trust had 25 young people racing.
At the handover ceremony, Rear Admiral Paul Bennett presented a plaque celebrating her restoration to Alan Dorricott, BAE Systems’ operations lead for fleet time engineering.
Mr Dorricott said: ‘Restoring Falcon has been a privilege for BAE Systems and our partners, and we are delighted to get her back onto the water to help disadvantaged young people in the area. We hope she is able to serve the trust for many years to come.’
The restoration was managed by BAE Systems, with help from Burgess Marine, Jack Tighe International Paints, Smith Brothers, Atlas, Woods Group, Marlin, SCA, Aquafax, Rapid Response, Signs and Lines, MG Duff, Raymarine and The Drystack at Trafalgar Wharf.