Dutch Navy welcome at Culdrose
The skies around Royal Naval Air Station Culdrose will be home to a new buzz over the coming weeks as Dutch Navy helicopters begin training from the West Cornwall Air Station.
Three NH 90 Maritime helicopters from 7 (NL) Squadron of the Royal Netherlands Navy (RNLN) along with 60 aircrew and engineers have arrived at RNAS Culdrose for a three week training period working with Flag Officer Sea Training (FOST) at Devonport. It will also offer a chance for the Dutch to hone their maritime skills alongside the Fleet Air Arm's Merlin Mk2s that call RNAS Culdrose home.
"It's an absolutely brilliant area to train in," said Lieutenant Pieter Agema, a support officer attached to 7 (NL) Sqn from their De Kooy Air Base near Den Helder in Holland. "We've been coming here every six months for a good many years now and we always get a very warm welcome from our British hosts. We are here primarily to train our aircrew for frontline service with the Fleet. Culdrose has always proved to be an excellent base for everything we need to do and offers a happy environment to do it in.”
The Dutch are also taking this opportunity to assess some of the new equipment carried onboard their NH 90 helicopters. Not only will they be training up a number of Observers and Aircrewmen to manage the systems, they are looking to utilise the unique training that FOST provides. By co-incidence there are three RNLN ships training at Devonport alongside other NATO vessels and they see the benefits of working with multiple platforms in complex scenarios.
Lieutenant Pieter Agema continues, "Working together with the Royal Navy and hunting real submarines is a great bonus for us and our training, you can't get this kind of training anywhere else in Europe, but you can here."
And it's not all work for the sailors and airman from Holland. Many of them have been coming for years and have fallen in love with the charms of this particular corner of the South West. "Cornwall is fantastic. It's a real privilege to be here. It's a beautiful place for walking along the coastal paths and biking in the summer when the weather's really nice and in the winter when it's not, it's still beautiful," said Pieter.