Navy helicopters from Culdrose join forces with NATO
Helicopters from RNAS Culdrose are preparing to join NATO forces in the Mediterranean to take part in a large scale anti-submarine exercise.
Members of 829 and 814 Naval Air Squadrons, based at the station near Helston, will head to Sicily at the end of this month to take part in Exercise Proud Manta.
The 75 strong team will consist of pilots, observers, aircrewmen and engineers, as well as the logisticians required to support the three Merlin Mk1 helicopters making the 1400 mile journey across Europe to their new temporary base at US Naval Air Station Sigonella in Eastern Sicily.
The main purpose of these maritime aviators will be to carry out specific training to promote the Royal Navy's partnership with NATO and ensure a vital maritime role of providing security at sea.
The Royal Navy's Merlin Mk1 can be used in many roles from search and rescue to counter piracy and drug smuggling patrols. However its primary role is to conduct anti-submarine warfare.
This exercise will enable the aircrews taking part to demonstrate their submarine hunting skills as they work alongside ships, aircraft and submarines from a number of different countries. It will also provide vital experience and training for 829 Naval Air Squadron's engineering teams, who are more accustomed to operating from the more limited space onboard Type 23 Frigates.
Commander Steve Windebank, the Commanding Officer of 829 Naval Air Squadron, who will head up the UK contingent, said: "Taking part in an exercise such as this is a fantastic opportunity for our crews to practice their anti-submarine warfare skills whilst working alongside our NATO partners."
"The Merlin is one of the best anti-submarine aircraft in the world and this is a great chance to prove that we are equally capable operating from ships or land based airfields at home or abroad," he added. "I hope that everyone involved will take something away from this year's exercise."