Located near the main Netherlands Navy port of Den Helder, is one of the
two Netherlands Navy Air wing bases. This small heliport is called De Kooij and houses the
VSQ 860 and VSQ 7 squadrons both equipped with the Westland SH-14D Lynx helicopter.
Flightgear Online visited the squadrons and reports on the flight gear in use.
Helmets and coveralls
The helicopter crews are equipped with 3 types of helmets made by Helmet Systems Ltd.
These ALPHA helmets replaced the elderly SPH-3 series which were in use until the early
nineties. The ALPHA helmets are lighter and provide a much better protection against
noise. Unfortunately these helmets have a tendency to break easily when handled roughly.
The ALPHA 100, the first model
that came in to service, is white with reflective orange stripes to increase visibility
after ditching. This helmet is nowadays mainly used for passengers and dinghy drill
exercises. This helmet was first worn with the orange coverall called the Carrot suit. In
situations were high visibility is needed, these sets are still worn.
The ALPHA 200 is designed for use in helicopters and fixed wing, non-ejection seat
aircraft. Chosen to replace the ALPHA 100 helmet in Netherlands Naval helicopter use, the
design allows the helmet to be configured to meet a broad range of applications.
Manufactured in 5 sizes the helmet can be adjusted to suit the varying contours of a wide
range of head sizes. It is made of an Aramid/Carbon fiber shell construction with an
integral polyurethane impact liner. Flown with a green coverall, this helmet is green with
black visor cover and has green reflective stripes on the back. When in use with the Frogs
(rescue divers) the ALPHA 200 also has reflective stripes on the visor cover.
The bright yellow ALPHA 800 is the latest member of the ALPHA family in use and only used
by the rescue divers. The ALPHA 800 Series Rescuer is designed to meet the requirement for
lightweight head protection combined with hands-free communications, a necessity in search
and rescue operations. The ALPHA 800 Series provides the vital communication link via a
built in headset, throat microphone, voice activated switch (VOX) and fully submersible
radio. 3 switch modes are incorporated for selective communication between pilot / rescuer
Besides the already mentioned green and orange coveralls, the crew wears the Beaufort
Mk.15. This life preserver contains several survival items like the SARBE 5 BE.375 radio
that is stored in one of the pockets. This radio transmits on the 243 MHz emergency
frequency. The other pockets hold a distress light, a signaling mirror and some smaller
items. Attached to the Mk.15 is the SRU-36/P Heed bottle that provides the crew with spare
breathing air when underwater. After ditching the unfortunate crewmember can board his
life boat. Besides the Mk.15, this time with reflective stripes, the rescue swimmer wears
an immersion suit and a harness to attach to the hoist.
Flightgear Online wishes to
thank the crew of VSQ860 for their cooperation on preparing this article.