TIGERS RETURN TO CULDROSE
A Royal Navy Helicopter Squadron has just returned to RNAS Culdrose in Helston after three months away supporting the Royal Navy’s Cougar 15 deployment and the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting in Malta.
Personnel from 814 Naval Air Squadron, based at RNAS Culdrose inCornwall, returned to theUKlast week after a 3 month deployment. The Squadron members, including Aircrew and Engineers, left theUKin September aboard HMS Ocean, the Royal Navy’s Helicopter Carrier and Amphibious Assault Ship. From there, the Squadron’s two Merlin Mk 2 helicopters took part in the Cougar 15 deployment alongside Chinook, Apache and Wildcat helicopters from the Royal Navy, British Army and Royal Air Force. This deployment is the annual test for theUK’s high readiness, Joint Expeditionary Force (JEF) and this year involved over 70 warships from across NATO. Throughout the exercise, Aircrew operated from several NATO vessels, including French and German ships.
During November, the Squadron detached from Ocean and joined HMS Bulwark to assist with security for this year’s Commonwealth Heads of Government meeting (CHOGM) inMalta, headed by HM Queen Elizabeth II. Based there for three weeks, they also supported the Valetta Summit on migration, where EU Ministers met to discuss the recent surge in migration.
The Squadron then re-embarked in HMS Ocean for her return journey to theUK, briefly stopping over inGibraltar. In all, the Squadron flew over 250 hours in support of the deployment, where several personnel experienced their first taste of embarked aviation, and everyone involved honed their maritime skills over 13 weeks deployed.
The Commanding Officer of 814 NAS, Commander Brendan Spoors said
“Taking part in this deployment was a fantastic opportunity for the Squadron to practice operating with different aircraft types and our NATO allies and to demonstrate the Royal Navy’s capability in the expeditionary role. Supporting CHOGM 15 enabled valuable cooperation between 814 and the Maltese Armed Forces and Met Police for the protection of the Royal Family and Prime Minister, and every member of the Squadron has gained a huge amount professionally from the experience.”
The Squadron are now looking forward to spending Christmas with their families before next year’s busy programme.