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HMS Ambush from the air
Conning tower of HMS Ambush

First Ever Winch Transfer to an Astute Class Submarine

Published: 28 Sep 2012

The main image shows HMS Ambush seen from the cargo door of a Fleet Air Arm Merlin prior to the very first transfer of supplies from a helicopter to an Astute-class attack submarine. The Merlin of 829 Naval Air Squadron from HMS St Albans winched stores on to the conning tower of HMS Ambush in the Irish Sea as the £1bn boat sailed from Barrow for Faslane on her maiden voyage.

It’s a challenging manoeuvre for any helicopter and submarine given the size of a boat’s conning tower, even before you throw in other variables such as sea and weather conditions. Then add the unknown of the first-ever transfer with an Astute-class submarine. As it turned out, it proved to be a textbook operation. Once at the rendezvous position, the Merlin established communications with the boat and PO Gavin ‘Final’ Furlong prepared to lower the stores down to Ambush. “It was a short-notice task and a submarine transfer is one of the more challenging tasks that we do, but everything went to plan. It shows that the training really works,” said Gavin.

The second image shows the boat's crew hold on to a hi-line lowered by the Merlin as HMS Ambush prepares to receive supplies. 

Pictures: PO Gavin ‘Final’ Furlong, 829 Naval Air Squadron.


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