Navy Lynx flight deploys with French warship
COUNTER-PIRACY operations in the Gulf are to be bolstered with the deployment of a Royal Navy helicopter on board the French frigate Surcouf. The Lynx Mark 8 aircraft from RNAS Yeovilton will join the FLF Surcouf to conduct combined operations off the Horn of Africa as part of Operation Atalanta. The helicopter from 217 Flight, headed up by Flight Commander Lieutenant Mike Curd, will join FLF Surcouf at her base in Toulon on Monday for a four-week training period. In November they will then deploy on Op Atalanta for four months as part of an initiative for the UK and French Armed Forces to work together more closely. Op Atalanta is part of the EU’s ongoing Naval effort to disrupt and deter piracy in a bid to reduce its impact on international trade, maritime security and on the economic activities and security of countries in the region.
Lt Curd and Pilot Lt Chris Southworth will be part of a team comprising of senior maintenance rating Chief Petty Officer Matthew ‘Cakey’ Eccles and seven aircraft engineers along with two Royal Marine snipers. Their training for this deployment included a 15-week French language course earlier this year to prepare 217 for life on board the French vessel. Lt Curd said: “To be given the opportunity to learn the language and then spend an entire deployment operating with the French Navy is fantastic and my team is very excited, not only to be contributing to counter-piracy operations in the Indian Ocean, but to be doing it in such unusual circumstances.”
In further support of operational preparations a delegation from 217 Flight and the Lynx Helicopter Force HQ visited Toulon in July to see the ship and meet her Commanding Officer, Capitaine de Frigate (CF) Hughes Laine. CF Laine said: “I am very pleased to welcome 217 Flight to Surcouf and look forward to having the world renowned capability of the Lynx Mk 8 at my disposal for the deployment.”
217 Flight will be away over Christmas and New Year returning to RNAS Yeovilton in March 2013.
Bottom Row kneeling from left to right: AET Stefan Penney, AET Sam Drury, AET Matt Hughes.
Standing from left to Right: AET Steve Arnold, PO Keith Armitage, Lt Chris Southworth (Flight Commander), Lt Mike Curd (Observer), CPO Matt Eccles (Flight SMR), PO Richard Corbett