CULDROSE MERLINS WARM UP FOR NATO EXERCISE IN THE MEDITERRANEAN
Air and ground crews from 814 Naval Air Squadron, ‘The Flying Tigers’ are gearing up for a major maritime exercise off the southern coast of Spain, together with other NATO nations.
Exercise Trident Juncture 2015 (TJ15) is the biggest NATO exercise in 20 years and brings together Naval Task Forces from over ten different Navies using a large part of theEastern Mediterranean.
The Royal Navy Air Station Culdrose Merlins are embarked in HMS Ocean, the Royal Navy’s Flagship and Commando Assault Ship which sailed from Livorno, inItalyafter completing Exercise Corsican Lion; where they were working closely with the French Navy’s Amphibious Group.
Moving straight into a ‘warm up’ phase for TJ 15, 814 NAS have been busy as the tempo of operations has increased with flight deck teams and air traffic controllers working with a full complement of helicopters onboard HMS Ocean. ‘Junglie’ Wildcats from Yeovilton’s 847 NAS, Merlin Mk2 of 814 NAS and 27 Squadron’s RAF Chinooks have been rehearsing drills they will need to deliver, Royal Marines of 45 Commando and their American counterparts from US Marine Corps, to the heart of the action in the coming weeks.
Royal Navy warships HMS Ocean and Bulwark are part of an exercise which will see around 36,000 military personnel from more than 30 nations taking part in locations aroundItaly,SpainandPortugal.
“814 Squadron have become fully integrated within Tailored Air Group which consists of four different aircraft types and three separate services all on one platform, HMS Ocean,” said Commander Brendan Spoors, CO of 814 NAS. “It has given the Squadron an opportunity for continued regeneration within this complex maritime environment, which offers an excellent chance to develop Wildcat, Merlin and Chinook cooperation whilst improving our interoperability with our NATO partners.”
Trident Juncture is also the final ‘tick’ that clears the Royal Navy’s Maritime Battle Staff to command the naval element on the NATO Response Force in 2016.