847 NAS Return Home Following Caribbean Disaster Relief Operations
In August three Wildcat helicopters from 847 Naval Air Squadron (NAS) from the Commando Helicopter Force based at Yeovilton deployed on HMS OCEAN to participate in the Standing NATO Maritime Group No 2’s multinational maritime and amphibious exercises off the coasts of France, Crete and Turkey. During the transit to the eastern Mediterranean a number of Caribbean islands were hit by a series of devastating hurricanes, and the ship was diverted to the disaster area to assist with vital relief work. Once in the Caribbean the 847 NAS Wildcat helicopters were particularly effective in operating and working in constricted and difficult places, which could not be accessed by the bigger and heavier Merlin and Chinook helicopters due to their size or their significant downdraft. The manoeuvrable Wildcats from 847 NAS undertook numerous day-in and day-out operations getting urgent supplies to cut-off islanders and proved to be an essential part of relief operations.
Following their relief efforts, the Squadron returned to the Mediterranean on HMS OCEAN and resumed its involvement in the pre-planned NATO maritime exercises. Having been away since August, those three Wildcat helicopters (ZZ394, ZZ395 and ZZ527) and their crews today returned home to re-join partners and families. Among the returning crews was Lieutenant Colonel David Sutton RM, Commanding Officer 847 NAS. He was accompanied by five other Squadron members who had been with him from the outset: Major O’Sullivan RM, Lieutenant Commander Plunkett RN, Lieutenant Burnett RN, Colour Sergeant Gratton RM and Sergeant Leadbeater RM. The photographs say it all………well done and welcome home.
All Photos attached are by Petty Officer Si Ethell RN. Crown Copyright applies.