846 NAS ‘crawl, walk, run’ and fly on deck landing training
Eleven months after 846 Naval Air Squadron reformed with the Merlin Mk3 helicopter, the crews completed their Deck Landing qualifications on the Royal Fleet Auxilary (RFA) Argus.
For a number of 846 NAS aircrew this was the first time in over three years they had operated with a ship due to being on exchange with the RAF whilst undergoing conversion training from the Sea King Mk4 to the Merlin Mk3 at RAF Benson.
Utilising the infamous ‘crawl, walk, run’ phrase, the first stage was for the Qualified Helicopter Instructors to utilise the vast deck experience with the Mk2 Merlin crews from 824 NAS.
Once the ‘train the trainer’ package was complete and all the crews had conducted the vital Simulator Deck Landing Practice, 846 NAS made their way to RFA Argus positioned off Portland.
It was a great opportunity for CHF Merlin to go ‘feet wet’ and begin to prove ourselves back in the maritime roleSergeant Lodge Royal Marines, 846 NAS Aircrewman
Far surpassing the training expectations, the Squadron re-qualified five crews in day/night and Night Vision Devices (NVD) deck landings within the first week.
A week of consolidation training was completed on RFA Argus following the initial training package before the crews were tasked to conduct further Deck Landings on HMS Ocean.
A challenging week followed with a busy deck on the ‘O’ Boat as 27 Sqn (RAF) were also embarked with three Chinooks conducting their initial Deck Qualifications prior to deploying on Cougar 15.
Alongside the aircrew training, an equally important part of these steps was for the aircraft engineers of 846 NAS to deploy on board and reacquaint themselves with operations at sea.
Sergeant Lodge Royal Marines, an Aircrewman in 846 NAS, said: “It was a great opportunity for CHF Merlin to go ‘feet wet’ and begin to prove ourselves back in the maritime role, further broadening the capability of the new CHF aircraft.”
Images taken by L(Phot) Dan Rosenbaum.