ASW Merlin is the best
A Merlin helicopter from 829 Naval Air Squadron (NAS) has been showing off its wares on a major NATO exercise in Norwegian waters alongside other Aircraft, Warships and Submarines from eight countries.
The Northern Maritime Wargame, Exercise Dynamic Mongoose, saw 05 Flight with its Merlin MK 1 helicopter from Royal Naval Air Station Culdrose, embarked on the Type 23 Frigate HMSKent. The Merlin was certainly tested as the principle Anti Submarine Warfare weapon for the ship during challenging weather conditions and mountainous sea states. This was compounded with heavy snow showers and a biting Arctic wind across the flight deck challenging aircrew and engineers and making working conditions pretty tough.
“We are a little more used to operating in warmer climates these day”, said Warrant Officer Pete Cheese, Senior Maintenance Rating of the Flight. “Carrying out maintenance on a flight deck in heavy snow is a bit different to say the least.”
The exercise presented a rare chance to work with other nations against a range of different threats, including from air, surface and sub-surface. Scenarios became increasingly demanding as the exercise developed. They included submarine detection, tracking and the engagement of surface vessels, aircraft detection, tracking and attacking submarines, as well as naval task groups escorting high value assets and protecting them from sub-surface threats. It also demonstrated how NATO members work closely together under a central command and produce an effective force.
Throughout the Maritime Exercise Merlin showed why it’s the best at hunting submarines and proved its worth with impressive results amongst its competitors. “It’s particularly satisfying to see the Merlin showcasing its potent capability as an Anti-Submarine Warfare platform”, said Lieutenant Karen Barnicoat, 05 Flight Commander. “Working with other nations is always rewarding and I feel that we’ve benefitted hugely from the testing conditions on Exercise Dynamic Mongoose has presented to us.”
But it wasn’t all work, run-a-shores in Stavanger and Bergen gave the Flight a chance to see Norway, offering opportunities for skiing and experience some local Norwegian culture at close quarters. They also worked with other Merlin crews from Culdrose who were operating from Sola airfield in Stavanger as part of the large NATO force gathered for the exercise.
Now back in Cornwall the Flight are preparing for their next deployment with HMS Kent, which is due in March.