846 NAVAL AIR SQUADRON OFFICIAL HOMECOMING CEREMONY
WITH a Merlin flypast and role demonstration before an audience of VIPs and families, 846 Naval Air Squadron hosted their official homecoming ceremony at RNAS Yeovilton.
During the ceremony, the new 846 NAS building was officially opened by the Guest of Honour, Brigadier Richard Spencer OBE ADC, who also presented four Afghanistan Operational Service Medals to members of 846 NAS.
Marking another milestone in the transition of the Merlin multi-role helicopter from the Royal Air Force to the Royal Navy, the ceremony reflected on the challenges faced by the 846 NAS personnel.
Lt Col Derek Stafford MBE RM, Commanding Officer of 846 Naval Air Squadron said,
“The challenge of transition has been immense and it is testament to the herculean efforts of both the CHF and RAF that 846 NAS has retaken it’s place within the Commando Helicopter Force, fit for operations with it’s new airframe. I am extremely honoured to be not only the first Commanding Officer of the Squadron in the Merlin era, but also the Commanding Officer with the privilege of returning the Squadron to it’s spiritual home at RNAS Yeovilton.“
Just over 24 months ago 846 NAS were operating the Sea King Mk4 helicopter in Afghanistan, moving to RAF Benson to begin the transition in March 2013 followed by the Squadron standing up as the first Commando Helicopter Force Squadron to be equipped with the Merlin in October 2014.
Captain Niall Griffin, Commanding Officer of the Commando Helicopter Force said:
“The hard work that has enabled this transition across the whole of the Commando Helicopter Force can not be underestimated, but despite the challenges the central purpose of the CHF has always been, and will continue to be, the safe and effective support of Royal Marines Commandos from the sea to the battlefield, across all environments. With the Merlin I forsee a very busy and successful future in doing just that.”
Having been through numerous incarnations during it’s 70 year life, 846 NAS has operated many different aircraft in locations all over the world. From Avengers during World War Two to Sea Kings inAfghanistan.
Already a proven platform, the marinisation programme will see the Merlin Mk3 equipped with a folding main rotor head and a modified undercarriage for deck landings. The Merlin will ensure the Commando Helicopter Force continue to successfully support the Royal Navy, Royal Marines and the Joint Helicopter Command.
The Commando Helicopter Force’s transition from the Sea King Mk4 to the Merlin will continue at RAF Benson when 845 Naval Air Squadron stand up in place of 28 (Army Cooperation) Squadron RAF this month. When fully operational, 845 NAS will return home to Yeovilton to reunite all the CHF Squadrons.