Merlin Mk2 goes to sea
During a ten day training package onboard RFA Argus, the Royal Navy’s Aviation Training Ship, 824 Naval Air Squadron have taken Merlin MK 2 to Sea on its initial embarkation, exercising both Aircrew and Engineers in operations afloat.
In all three Merlin MK 2’s deployed for a first detachment away from Royal Naval Air Station Culdrose and proved its worth as the Navy’s Newest Airborne Anti- Submarine Hunter. Leading the integration with training afloat was ‘Sea flight’, part of 824 NAS which comprises of two elements ‘824 HQ’ and the ‘Merlin Training Facility’ (MTF), the squadron trains students of varying degrees of aviation experience ranging from brand-new pilots, observers, aircrewman and engineers to those converting from other aircraft types.
One of the Flying instructors with 824 NAS is Lieutenant Commander Tony Morris, feels honoured to be involved with Merlin MK 2’s first Detachment afloat. “Essentially there are only small differences with the handling characteristic from the Merlin MK 1. The true reflection will come when we start to develop its fuller profile and start Hunting Submarines.”
Of the four Culdrose Merlin Squadrons, 824 and 820 NAS have now completed their conversion courses to MK 2 with 829 and 814 NAS beginning in the New Year. Extensive training packages for all the students in the MTF and around RNAS Culdrose using modules and simulators will teach many of the basics, but it’s getting the helicopters embark at Sea and involved in around-the-clock flight deck operations when they can truly be assessed.
Ship borne operations with 824’s ‘Sea Flight’ create a unique working and training environment. It’s here that adaptable and high-calibre maintenance teams are required to keep the aircraft flying in often challenging conditions.
Lt Cdr Tony Morris continues, “Throughout all the training on 824 NAS we emphasise the difference between the ‘concrete- deck’ of Culdrose and flying off a Ship’s deck in more often than not, challenging environments, anywhere around the Globe. We train hard and detachments like this on RFA Argus are very rewarding when it all comes together.”