§ Sir F. SYKES
asked the. Secretary of State for Air if he will state the numbers of power-driven marine surface craft-carried on the establishment of the Royal Air Force for employment in conjunction with air operations other than transport; to what extent naval staff and facilities are employed on the if current and special maintenance; whether they are commanded and manned by acting, attached, seconded, or ex-naval personnel; and, if the latter, what arrangements exist for maintaining supply of personnel with recent naval experience?
§ Sir S. HOARE
in answer to the first part of the question, the only power-driven surface craft carried on the establishment of the Royal Air Force for employment in conjunction with air operations other than transport are three vessels which were taken over from the War Office for police and defence work on the rivers in Iraq: in answer to the 2001W second part, these vessels are maintained at Basrah dockyard, where no naval maintenance facilities are available, principally by Indian and local native labour assisted by Air Force personnel; in answer to the third part, they are commanded by officers with suitable experience, the remaining deck and engine room complement consisting of natives recruited locally or in India, while the gun crews are Air Force personnel who have been trained at Whale Island. As regards the last part of the question, no difficulty is anticipated in maintaining suitable personnel with adequate knowledge for handling these river craft.