Thirty-eight school teams in three age groups (years 6,7,8,9; years 10 and 11; years 12 and 13) from across the UK took part in the national final of the 2005 Royal Navy Challenge ‘Operation Storm’ organised by Young Engineers as part of the Royal Academy of Engineering’s BEST programme at HMS Sultan in Gosport, yesterday. Prize money totalled nearly £3,500 with three top prizes of £500 and an exciting trip aboard the Royal Navy frigate, HMS Westminster, in the Solent on 14 July.

Challenged to design and build a vessel to clear a model Caribbean harbour of debris following a hurricane against the clock, in order that the Royal Navy could get in with relief supplies, teams responded with a range of imaginative solutions. There was even one submarine.

Chief judge, Stuart Vincent, from the Nuclear Department at HMS Sultan, said, “We tried to make the challenge pretty impossible and I was astounded at how well the students did. Although no teams actually cleared the harbour completely in the five minutes allowed, several got much closer than we had anticipated. All the judges were hugely impressed.”

In a day full of excitement, teams had the opportunity to sit in the cockpits of helicopters and a sea harrier, talk to Naval officers and to view many interesting displays including one on robots. The Group 1 winners (years 6, 7, 8, 9) for the best presentation of the planning of their project were 2286 Arden Squadron Air Training Corp from Coventry, whose team members Belinda Jeffries (14) and Jay Ashmore (13) were treated to a flight in a Lynx helicopter around the Solent. Belinda said,

“This was absolutely amazing and the best part was when we lifted off and the pilot tilted the nose of the aircraft, very exciting.”

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