A SEA KING STORM OVER SALISBURY PLAIN
THROUGHOUT the last week of a wet, cold January, a second Commando Helicopter Force ‘Storm’ hit Salisbury Plain. Two Sea King Mk4s from 845 Naval Air Squadron deployed to Rollestone Camp on Exercise Merlin Storm 2.
Despite the exercise name, it was the mighty Sea King not the Merlin that supported Yankee Company, 45 Commando Royal Marines during the week long training as they prepare to take over as the Lead Commando Group.
Providing organic aviation support to Y Company, the exercise also provided training for the air and ground crews from 845 NAS and personnel from the Commando Mobile Air Operations Team, as they deployed to a self sustained Forward Operating Base environment away from a Main Operating Base.
845 NAS conducted Stage 1 Drills for Y Company, in addition to aviation support in tactical scenarios such as the first light aviation assault on Imber Village, the training area used by the military for urban combat training, known by commandos as FISHing (Fighting In Someone’s House).
Joint Personnel Recovery (JPR) training scenarios were also carried out. The aim of JPR exercises is to provide fully trained and capable crews to carry out rescues should things go awry in a combat situation.
The final aim of the exercise was for the aircrew to complete their Qualification, Competencies and Currencies training, which included; formation flying, underslung loads (USL), winching and trooping drills. With the driving rain and high winds, the USL and winching serials proved extremely challenging for the air crew, and tested the nerve of the Royal Marines being winched up into the Sea King!
On the 29th of January, a short break was taken from the exercise as the Sea Kings returned to RNAS Yeovilton to conduct a role demonstration at the 815 and 845 NAS final Lynx and Sea King Wings Parade, watched by HRH the Duke Of York who presented the Lynx and Sea King students with their Wings.
With the Sea Kings heading into their final year of service with the Commando Helicopter Force, exercise Merlin Storm 2 gave the residents and visitors of the Salisbury Plain area one of the last views of the mighty Sea King in action.