Sea King a French connection
A Sea King Mk4 from 845 Naval Air Squadron of the Commando Helicopter Force seized a rare opportunity to visit and train with the French Naval Ship, FS Dixmude.
This provided an excellent opening to exercise UK/FR interoperability, with both the UK and France having key roles to play in leading and shaping the defence and security of Europe.
Whilst on board, the crew enjoyed warm hospitality from the ship’s company, before conducting integration briefs and Deck Landing Training serials, prior to flying back home to RNAS Yeovilton.
FS Dixmude is an amphibious assault ship, similar in design to HMS Ocean, and she is the third of the Mistral class ships currently in the French Fleet. FS Dixmude recently took part in Operation Serval, ferrying elements of the 92ème Régiment d’Infanterie to Mali.
‘A’ Flight from 845 NAS have been operating to foreign vessels regularly during their current deployment on Exercise Cougar 14, including the USS San Diego, the German Ship Schleswig-Holstein and the FS Courbet. However opportunities to interact with foreign vessels on a day-to-day basis in UK coastal waters are rare.
Commander Gavin Simmonite, Commanding Officer of 845 NAS said “This was a great opportunity to work with our French Navy colleagues onboard FS Dixmude.
"It provided us with a chance to extend our maritime flying skills, develop our mutual understanding of amphibious aviation and enhance the close friendship with our French counterparts.
"We are extremely keen to exploit any occasion where we can conduct further joint training with the French amphibious forces and build on our sea-borne expertise in the Commando Helicopter Force.”
Despite only having 18 months left before the mighty Sea King Mk4 retires, 845 NAS and the Commando Helicopter Force are firmly focussed on honing their skills in the Maritime environment, thus justifying their status as the Joint Helicopter Command experts in Littoral Manoeuvre operations.