Culdrose's Merlin arrives in Philippines
A Merlin MK1 helicopter Flight, from 829 Naval Air Squadron, has today arrived in the Philippines in order to conduct humanitarian aid and disaster relief operations in areas affected by Typhoon Haiyan.
The Merlin Flight, from Royal Naval Air Station Culdrose, has been embarked in HMS Illustrious since June this year and was taking part in counter piracy operations off the Horn of Africa when the Prime Minister ordered the ship, and her embarked aircraft, to assist with the international aid effort.
Having picked up some 500 tonnes of food and supplies in Singapore, the task now for ‘Lusty’, and her crew, is to ensure that the correct aid is supplied to the most affected and vulnerable areas.
“After HMS Illustrious stored ship in Singapore, we have a vast and wide range of incredibly useful aid onboard,” said Lieutenant Commander Edwin Cooper, 829 NAS Merlin Flight Commander. “The important part now is to ensure we get the aid to those who need it most.”
One of the first tasks for the Culdrose Aviators has been to survey some of the devastation and determine what needs to be done. Launching at sunrise this morning the Merlin flew to the large Island of Tablas in the centre of the Philippines Archipelago and some six smaller surrounding Islands, covering a total of 180 square miles. In the aircraft assessing the damage with the aircrew was a select team of specialists from 24 Commando Royal Engineers, based at RMB Chivenor who are utilising their expertise to determine where HMS Illustrious can be most effective.