UK: HMS Mersey Conducts Winching Training with Merlin Helicopter

HMS Mersey Conducts Winching Training with Merlin Helicopter

Fishery Protection vessel HMS Mersey has taken part in a rare opportunity to practise winching training with a Merlin helicopter from Royal Naval Air Station Culdrose.

The Portsmouth-based vessel was on a routine patrol of the UK’s fishery limits over the weekend when the wind increased, whipping up the water into dangerous swells – meaning she would be unable to deploy her inspection team to board smaller fishing vessels.

So instead the ship organised a flying exercise with 814 – providing the Merlin with a platform to practise winching training and the ship’s company to take part in communications and flying operations.

The patrol ship and Merlin rarely have the chance to work together – with the poor weather conditions in the South Coast exercise areas giving them both the perfect opportunity to brush up their respective skills.

 Lieutenant Commander Sarah Oakley, Commanding Officer of HMS Mersey said:

 “The weather may sometimes prevent us doing our core job of conducting fisheries inspections at sea, but it this does not stop HMS Mersey from patrolling the UK Fisheries limits.

“We were able to benefit from the opportunity this weekend to achieve essential training. We do not have a flight deck, but we may be required to work with helicopters to conduct winching in case of casualty evacuation or search and rescue operations, and so this was extremely useful training for both crews. I look forward to working with them again when the opportunity arises.”

The Royal Navy Fishery Protection Squadron ships, HMS Tyne, HMS Severn and HMS Mersey, maintain a constant presence throughout UK waters all year round, with each ship spending over 300 days each at sea every year. Working with the Marine Management Organisation, the patrol duties of the fishery limits surrounding England and Wales are shared between the three ships.

Training like this is essential to maintain operational capability and to ensure the ships are ready to respond to any tasking as they patrol UK waters.

Naval Today Staff, March 6, 2013; Image: Royal Navy