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Published: 24 Jul 2017

TWO Merlin helicopters from 845 Naval Air Squadron (NAS) have returned after 5 months at sea covering 27,000miles and visiting 13 countries embarked in the French Ship (FS) Mistral.


Over the 5 months 845 NAS trained with US, French and Japanese forces as part of Jeanne d’Arc 17, a multinational training mission, crossed the Mediterranean Sea, Red Sea, Indian Ocean, South China Sea and the Pacific, and visited ports that included Mumbai, Ho Chi Minh City, Darwin and Colombo.


Landing at the Royal Naval Air Station Yeovilton the Squadron personnel were met by their families and new Commanding Officer (CO), Commander Robert Bond however it was Commander Matt Punch MBE the outgoing CO that embarked in FS Mistral and he said;


It’s great to have A Flight home after such a historic and successful deployment onboard the FS Mistral. I’m particularly proud of how well 845 NAS personnel integrated with our international allies. Our contribution has reinforced the reputation of the Royal Navy and the Fleet Air Arm as a capable and global fighting force.’


The deployment was the first time that the Merlin Mk3a helicopter had operated at sea and the squadron engineers had to maintain the aircraft in tough weather conditions.


Lt Cdr Joe Stevens, 845’s Air Engineer Officer, remarked that:


The engineers have, as always, worked hard in testing weather and produced outstanding results. This was no mean feat, especially as for many of the younger men and women this was their first time working at sea. ”


Tucker Palmer (6) waited excitedly for his Dad “he’s flying the Merlin home you know!”


The Stubbs Family eagerly awaited the return home of Warrant Officer (WO1) Richard ‘Seth’ Stubbs’ the Senior Maintenance Rating (SMR) with the deployment. Willow (10) said;


I can’t wait to have Dad home he can walk the Teddy (the dog) as I’ve had to do it! Oh and we are also going on holiday to Mexico so that really exciting.”


The returning personnel now head off for some well-deserved leave, before returning to prepare for future embarkations in the Royal Navy’s new aircraft carriers, HMS Queen Elizabeth and HMS Prince of Wales.


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