814 Merlins at Yeovilton Prior to Olympic Events in Weymouth
Royal Navy Merlin’s from 814 Naval Air Squadron (the Flying Tigers) have arrived at Royal Naval Air Station Yeovilton in preparation for their key role in contributing to maritime security operations in support of Dorset Police. The Squadron’s personnel, home-based at RNAS Culdrose in Cornwall, have been preparing for their Olympics role for many months, and have already taken part in a series of demanding training missions, working alongside other Royal Navy and Royal Marine units, and other Government agencies. In addition to conducting maritime surveillance in the Weymouth Bay area, 814 NAS crews will be on call to respond to any incident as directed by Maritime Force Commander Dorset, the Commanding Officer HMS BULWARK.
The Merlin Mk 1 is the world’s most potent submarine hunting helicopter, using state-of-the-art active sonar and passive sonobuoys, but is equally adept at a broad range of traditional maritime helicopter duties such as sea surveillance, search and rescue, and the transfer of passenger and equipment. More specialist roles have also been added since the aircraft entered frontline service in 2000, most notably maritime sniping, fast roping and ISTAR. This combination of capabilities has made the Merlin Mk 1 the aircraft of choice for this particular element of the Fleet Air Arm’s support to the Olympics security plan.
The Commanding Officer of 814 NAS, Commander Christopher Stock said: “A lot of hard work has gone on behind the scenes by both my engineers and aircrew over many months to ensure aircraft and flying crews are ready for OP OLYMPICS. The Squadron has been liaising very closely with the Police and other agencies, and conducted a comprehensive and dedicated work-up package so that the “Flying Tigers” can contribute to a safe and secure Olympic and Paralympic games”.
The 814 Merlin’s will be based out of RNAS Yeovilton for the duration of the Olympic and Paralympic Games and fly to and from HMS Bulwark which is positioned in Weymouth Bay close to the Olympic Sailing Regatta. The move from Culdrose enables them to utilise the facilities available at the Somerset base and be closer to their operating areas.
One of Yeovilton’s other contribution to the Olympics has seen 5 Lynx deploy onto the Helicopter Carrier HMS Ocean, from where she will act as a helicopter launch pad as well as a logistics and support hub for the Olympic security effort in London. On the Amphibious Carriers arrival in Greenwich the Ships company proudly recreated the Olympic symbol on her flight deck to mark the start of her Olympic deployment.