UK: Merlin Helicopter Flies from HMS St Albans to Search Seas below for Enemy Boats

The Cold War may be over but Royal Navy fliers have been keeping their submarine-hunting skills fresh.

A Merlin helicopter flew from the frigate HMS St Albans to search the seas below for enemy boats.

The aircraft from 829 Naval Air Squadron was designed to give the Navy the best chance of finding submarines – and key lessons were learned during the exercise.

Commander Tom Sharpe, Commanding Officer of HMS St Albans, said:

This was an invaluable period of training that fine-tuned our anti-submarine tactics.”

“The lessons learnt here will further enhance our ability to protect the vital shipping routes in the Middle East and serve as a reminder to all that we must ensure that hard earned ASW skills are not allowed to perish.”

“An exercise such as this, flanked as it was by counter-piracy operations and search and rescue tasking and interspersed with live operations is indicative of how flexible a frigate has to be on a deployment such as this.”

HMS St Albans is deployed in the Middle East region as part of the UK Maritime Component Commander’s (UKMCC) task force.

The Saint and her embarked helicopter honed their skills and fine tuned their equipment so that they could operate in this unique and challenging oceanographic environment.

One of the key missions for the Royal Navy and her allies in this region is to protect vital international shipping routes in the region from any potential threat, of which the one from beneath the waves remains the hardest to counter.

HMS St Albans and her Merlin helicopter provide a powerful team that is at the cutting edge of this often unspoken sphere of warfare in both equipment and tactics. Ship and helicopter alike carry a range of sensors and weapons, to deter or, if necessary, destroy.

A Royal Navy Submarine played the role of the enemy and cleverly simulated the operating patterns of a wide range of submarines in order to provide as stern yet realistic challenge as possible.

HMS St Albans deployed from Portsmouth on 5 June for a six-month operational tour of the Indian Ocean and Arabian Gulf undertaking varied tasking in support of the UK and Combined Maritime Forces coalition interests in the region.

She will be operating in an area that encompasses a number of coalition efforts to detect and deter various illegal activities whilst providing reassurance to those who use the sea lanes for routine and lawful business.


Source: royalnavy, August 3, 2011;