Magic from Merlin as helicopter teams up with HMS Sutherland
The spray thrown up by the Merlin’s very powerful downdraught is refracted by the autumn sunshine to create a rainbow, one of Nature’s wonder, as Merlin touches down on HMS Sutherland for the first time in about 18 months thanks to the frigate’s £24m revamp.
For the next few weeks the helicopter from 03 Flight, 829 Naval Air Squadron, based at Culdrose will work hand-in-glove with the Fighting Clan.
The two state-of-the-art warfighting machines are going through the rigours of the Royal Navy’s ‘pre-season training’ over the next two months.
Operational Sea Training in the South West Exercise Area off Plymouth tests the ability of a ship’s company to deal with everything a deployment might throw at them – from the basics of seafaring and coping with fires, man overboard and the like all the way up to World War 3 with air, submarine and missile attacks raining in.
At the end of it all, Sutherland will be ready to deploy and ship and Merlin will be working together at their maximum effectiveness.
After a busy first two weeks onboard, the Flight are now fully established and are proud to be a part of HMS Sutherland ship’s company.Cdr Ben Kerley
Above all, with the addition of Merlin, Sutherland can carry out her principal role – hunting submarines, for both ship and helicopter were designed specifically with that in mind.
“A Merlin Mk2 and a Type 23 frigate are a potent combination – and Operational Sea Training provides the ideal training package to hone our capabilities at sea,” said Lt Cdr Ben Kerley, Merlin Flight Commander.
“Not only are our core anti-submarine warfare skills fully tested, but we also train for a wide range of eventualities.
“After a busy first two weeks onboard, the Flight are now fully established and are proud to be a part of HMS Sutherland ship’s company.”
Sutherland’s Commanding Officer Cdr Stephen Anderson said the Merlin’s arrival was “the final piece in the jigsaw”.
He continued: “It turns us into the most up to date and capable frigate in the Type 23 flotilla after our £24m upgrade.
“Having our own Merlin ensures that we are able to demonstrate a world-beating ability to conduct anti-submarine warfare operations, as well as increased ability and flexibility in all environments.”