Operational Excellence Awards for Lynx Wildcat Maritime Force
THE OUTSTANDING operational effectiveness of a Lynx helicopter Flight in the multinational Libya operation was recognised on Friday, 12 October by the award of the prestigious Osprey Trophy.
The Royal Navy’s Fleet Commander, Admiral George Zambellas, presented the trophy that is awarded annually to the front-line Lynx Flight that has contributed most to the ethos, reputation and standing of the Lynx Wildcat Maritime Force over the previous year. Admiral Zambellas said, “This is a chance to reflect on courage and dedication. Diverse and demanding challenges were met by Liverpool Flight in the time-honoured traditions of the Naval Service.”
217 Flight that was embarked in HMS Liverpool spent 224 days operating from the ship, flying more than 270 hours in the operational theatre and maintained a 94% availability. This was remarkable in an exacting hostile operational environment in the unforgiving maritime conditions of the Mediterranean. To achieve this with 2 aircrew and 7 maintainers is testimony to the efficient integration of on-call naval aviation in the maritime environment.
Lieutenant Alistair Crawford, who flew the Lynx in the operations off the Libyan coast said, “It was a brilliant team effort. The Fleet Air Arm is often in the forefront of operations that have a maritime dimension. HMS Liverpool’s role was key to many of the successes in the allied operations. It is vital that helicopter operations are an integrated part of the ship and our flight was involved in the thick of it throughout.”
The Osprey Trophy was commissioned in 2007, in memory of four members of HMS Portland’s Flight who lost their lives in a Lynx helicopter that crashed off the Lizard peninsula in December 2004. The presentation was attended by family members of HMS Portland’s Flight and was marked with a flying display by the Black Cats Lynx helicopter display team and the Royal Navy Historic Flight’s Sea Fury.
Also presented was the Robert Sandison Trophy, originally commissioned in 1958 in memory of a pilot of the same name. It is awarded annually to the individual aircrew contributing most to the development of new airborne weapon tactics. This year it was awarded to Lieutenant Alastair Thompson for his dedicated work whilst deployed in the Indian Ocean, specifically with regard to counter-piracy operations. Alistair said, “I am very proud, this award was a massive surprise. We were set a challenge which demanded a flexible response and my proposals for revised operational tactics were fully supported by my commander. The successes we had in countering a range of piracy incidents reflects the effectiveness of the Royal Navy’s dynamic response to an ongoing threat to maritime security. Although I received the award, I’d like to pay tribute to the professionalism of my flight, without whom none of this would have been possible.”