829 Merlin Flight Off to Fight the Pirates
A team from Royal Naval Air Station Culdrose will today sail to the Indian Ocean on a six month deployment helping in the fight against piracy and people and drug trafficking.
Home for the next six months for the Aircrew and engineers from 829 Naval Air Squadron and their Merlin helicopter is HMS Sutherland. Serving on Operation Kipion, the ship will come under multi-national tasking within the Indian Ocean, Gulf of Oman and the Arabian Gulf. As part of her tasking she will assist in Counter Piracy Operations within the area as well as surveillance for Counter Drug and People and Weapon trafficking. She will also carry out National Tasking in support of the continuing stabilisation of the region.
Her Merlin flight from Culdrose, is headed by Lieutenant Earl Kingston. Lieutenant Kingston is also joined by another Pilot, an Observer, an Aircrewman, nine Engineers and two Royal Marines who will act as the aircraft’s sniper team.
The Flight has been undertaking a ‘work-up’ period with the ship since February. Starting with the basics of Flying Operations combined with exercise fires, floods and simulated hostile attacks, before building to complex multi-asset full scale conflicts, disaster relief training and evolutions similar to that expected within theatre. Separately the Flight have also been carrying out weapon and survival training, as well as theatre specific flying both airborne and in the simulator back at Culdrose.
Lieutenant Kingston, Flight Commander said: “It has been a very busy and very testing couple of months, for both Flight and Ship. But we are now in a position to deploy and we are ready to carry out any tasking required of us.”
The flight will relieve another Culdrose based flight onboard HMS Westminster as she returns from her deployment in the Gulf.