CULDROSE LOOKS FORWARD TO THE QUEEN ELIZABETH CARRIERS
As personnel at Royal Naval Air Station Culdrose begin to wind down for Christmas, many will reflect on some of their achievements over a busy year.
The start of 2016 saw the final days of Search and Rescue patrols over the Cornish coastline, before the 771 NAS decommissioned at a formal dinner attended by Simon Le-Bon. It was however not the end of the venerable Sea King and 849 NAS continues its long established heritage with deployments to the Middle East and supporting Maritime Operations with the Fleet.
‘The Baggers’ also had a chance to prove they were alive and kicking, venturing across Europe and taking part in realistic fighter integration exercises over the North Sea with Dutch F16’s. Meanwhile Merlin’s from 829, 814 and 820 NAS were all paying their part in showing that Culdrose was more than just a SAR Station. Joint exercises with other NATO countries in Italy, Norway and the Mediterranean were on the agenda, practicing their core skills in hunting submarines and delivering protection to the Maritime Force.
824 NAS and the Merlin Training Facility equally had a busy year, bringing through the future Pilots, Observers, Aircrewmen and Engineers onto the front line. Upgrades to the simulators and improvements to software and operating procedures continued to put Culdrose firmly on map as a leader in RN training.
Fixed Wing Force’s efforts equally contributed to training achievements. The Avengers aircraft of 750 NAS, now used for training Naval Aircrewmen and RAF rear seat crew as well as RN Observers. In addition, Hawks from 736 NAS spread their wings from Albania to the outer reaches of Northern Scotland.
Not to be overlooked, the Maritime Aviation Support Force has had more personnel deployed across the Fleet and shore bases worldwide than any other Unit at Culdrose. Their contributions to RFA Argus in particular and most of the RFA ships is a testament to their professional established ethos and hard work.
The imminent arrival of HMS Queen Elizabeth into the Royal Navy is continuing to focus training at the Air Station. Additionally, the Royal Naval School of Flight Deck Operations are squarely meeting the challenge of supplying her and HMS Prince of Wales with competently trained deck crews. Using the Station’s Dummy Deck has been essential to familiarising Aircraft Handlers with realistic scenarios, complete with the noise and the whirl of a ‘live-deck’.
Closer to home RNAS Culdrose celebrated the achievements of some with the FAA awards and 814 NAS receiving the Australia Shield for the highest degree of Operational Capability, presented by Head of the FAA, Admiral Keith Blount OBE.
In a message to all at Royal Naval Air Station Culdrose, The Commanding Officer Captain Dan Stembridge ADC said;
“You can all feel justifiably proud of your achievements over the past 12 months. You have contributed to our success in delivering operations overseas and directly from the Air Station. From intelligence gathering and counter-piracy in the Middle East, protecting British interests worldwide, to counter terrorism in the UK and protection of our Nation’s Strategic Nuclear Deterrent; RNAS Culdrose personnel are at the forefront of Defence output. These operational commitments remain 24/7, 365 days a year, so as you proceed on leave, please give a thought to our colleagues deployed or on notice to move across all squadrons, units and departments.”
“I wish you all a very happy Christmas and a successful New Year; on return, we will be very close to our first embarkation in HMS Queen Elizabeth and all that means for us, the Royal Navy and the Nation as a whole. 2017 marks the start of an exciting era for FAA and RN – we need to embrace it, look to the future and be ready to fight and win.”