814 'Flying Tigers' return from Norway
The Flying Tigers of 814 Naval Air Squadron recently returned from a successful search for submarines in the Norwegian Sea.
The Flying Tigers, normally based at Royal Naval Air Station Culdrose in Helston, sent two of their Merlin helicopters and 55 personnel to take part in Exercise Dynamic Mongoose, a newly-established NATO Anti-Submarine Warfare exercise in the Norwegian Sea. Operating from Sola Airbase, Stavanger in Norway, the Tigers were on the hunt for hunter-killer class submarines. They searched for them actively with sonar, and passively by listening to the submarines movements.
The exercise proved to be an excellent and highly valuable training evolution for the Squadron allowing it to hone its Anti Submarine Warfare capabilities after a lengthy period of time involved in maritime security operations supporting the international effort against illegal activities on the high seas including anti-piracy, people-trafficking, smuggling, drug-running and terrorism.
The men and women of 814 Squadron worked alongside their NATO partners from France, Germany, Canada, Netherlands, Poland and, of course, the host: the highly accommodating Norwegians. The exercise saw the Squadron operating as part of the ‘friendly forces’, working alongside various NATO Maritime Patrol Aircraft, 4 surface ships (including HNoMS Fridtjof Nansen) and multiple rotary wings assets including Polish Mi-14 “Haze” helicopters to counter the threat posed by 3 conventionally-powered submarines.
The mission was to assist in the protection of the ‘High Value Vessel’ (FGS Spessart) from the unseen enemy who posed a very real threat lurking below the surface and ready to pounce at a moment’s notice. These quiet and elusive boats are difficult opponents and can prove a real challenge to detect at the best of times, even with the Merlin’s highly advanced active sonar, passive sonics and radar. The submarine commanders continually tested the flying crews’ war-fighting skills, but the Flying Tigers leapt to the challenge, successfully hunting and preying on the threat. The exercise demonstrated what a highly capable aircraft and daunting opponent the Merlin HM Mk1 can be when operated by well-trained Fleet Air Arm aviators.
Commander Stock, Commanding Officer of 814 Squadron said: “Dynamic Mongoose was a fantastic opportunity to work alongside some of our NATO allies and to put into practice our Anti Submarine Warfare tactics. It provided really valuable training, and the feedback from the submariners themselves illustrated how effective a well-operated Merlin can be. I feel confident in the knowledge that the Flying Tigers of 814 NAS will be ready to fight and protect our nation’s interests against threats whether from above or, as here, below the water.”
Dynamic Mongoose was a key part of the build up for Operation Cougar, 814 Squadron’s primary deployment later in the year.