845 NAS Presentaion of Breitling Trophy
845 Naval Air Squadron (NAS) can officially call itself “The Premier Naval Squadron” after being awarded the prestigious Breitling Trophy. The squadron based at RNAS Yeovilton, Somerset was presented the award after achieving the best overall assessment during a Naval Flying Standards inspection in recognition of professionalism and excellence in Naval Aviation marking them out as the best in the Fleet Air Arm.
The “Junglie” unit, which celebrated 50 years in the Commando role earlier this year, is no stranger to this award having won it just two years earlier. Inspected last November the squadron was put through its paces with an intensive flying programme covering a broad range of exercises that make the aircrew and engineers operating the Commando Sea King Mark 4 unique. With the squadron operating at such a high tempo with personnel and aircraft returning from Afghanistan, preparing to go to sea on board HMS Illustrious or on exercise in the Highlands of Scotland the inspection could not have come at a busier time. With the engineers working flat out to ensure there were serviceable aircraft to meet the flying program it is truly an award that the entire squadron feels proud to receive.
Commanding Officer of 845 NAS, Commander James Newton DFC RN, said “to win this honour against such fierce competition at a time when the squadron is as busy as ever is a huge testament to the men and women of this unit. With the Sea King due to leave service in 2016 and being replaced by the Merlin, currently in service with the RAF, the pilots and aircrew have proved there is life in the old girl yet.” The CO went on to say “having had both aircrew and engineers having to start training and operating on the new aircraft type at RAF Benson, we have had to ensure our standards remained at the very highest standard. Whilst in this transition period we are still, and will be for the next few years, on call to operate any where in the world.”
The Trophy was presented by Admiral Cunningham CBE, Assistant Chief of the Naval Staff (Aviation and Carriers) and Rear Admiral Fleet Air Arm, to Lieutenant Commander Ed Adams, the squadron’s Training Officer. The Admiral praised the Squadron for its considerable endeavours both on Operations in Afghanistan and on global exercises, adding their achievements were nothing short of remarkable.
The parade was also an opportunity for individuals to be recognised for their efforts not only to the squadron but the Royal Navy. Seven sailors and one Royal Marine received their Long Service and Good Conduct Medal recognising 15 years of exemplary service, four received their Afghan Operational Service Medal, six aircrew received their Aircrew Certificate of Competency, an Aircraft Engineer was presented with a citation for his part in leading a team of engineers in the recovery of an aircraft that had been hit by a Rocket Projectile Grenade and Flight Commander Captain Barnwell RM was presented with the Accumulated Campaign Service Medal for serving in excess of 1000 days in Afghanistan. All in all it was a great day for the men and women of 845 NAS.