Merlin on Norwegian cat and mouse adventure
The eternal battle between hunter and hunted is on again as the Royal Navy’s submarine hunters lock horns with their foe beneath the waves in a major international exercise in the North Sea.
Three Merlin helicopters from Royal Naval Air Station Culdrose have joined their NATO cousins inNorwayfor an 11-day hunt for five submarines lurking off the coast of Stavanger– the ultimate game of cat and mouse.
As part of ‘Exercise Dynamic Mongoose’ the Culdrose team will work alongside the Norwegian Navy, as well as other European counterparts. Using their state-of-the-art Merlin helicopters, the skills of the aircrew will be tested as they hunt the silent threat below the surface of the sea and protect the ‘Fleet’ from enemies on and above surface.
Operating from Sola Airbase and HMS KENT, the aircrew will be pursuing hunter-killer class submarines – actively with sonar, and passively by listening to the submarines' movements.
In addition to two Merlin Mk1 Helicopters which have deployed, the Royal Navy has also sent its newest version of the Merlin helicopter – the very first time that a Merlin Mk2 has been sent overseas. The Merlin fleet, based at Culdrose, is in the midst of a £750m upgrade which will help to keep the helicopter at the forefront of naval warfare until the end of the 2020s. By deploying the Mk2 to this exercise, aircrew will be able to test its capabilities before it becomes operational later this year.
The teams of aircrew and engineers from 829 and 820 Naval Air Squadrons will be deployed for the next couple of weeks, swapping their normal Helston home for the dramatic fjords of Norway. HMS KENT’s Merlin Flight, who were already deployed, will continue to patrol UK waters after the exercise in her ongoing role as a high readiness frigate.
Commander Ben Franklin, Merlin Force Commander, said: “Exercise Dynamic Mongoose provides a fantastic opportunity for our Merlin Squadrons to hone their maritime warfare skills whilst working closely with other NATO, air, surface and sub-surface Forces. We are relishing the opportunity to take part in a testing anti-submarine exercise and show our NATO colleagues just what the Fleet Air Arm and Merlin Helicopter Force is capable of doing.”
“Dynamic Mongoose is a key element of the ongoing need to ensure that the Fleet Air Arm remains at high readiness for operations. It provides the Merlin crews with an excellent opportunity to practice their Anti-Submarine Warfare skills against a variety of exercise ‘adversaries’ not normally encountered in British waters.”