Royal Navy Merlins return from ASW drill off Norway

Two Royal Navy Merlin Mk2 helicopters have returned home after two weeks of anti submarine warfare drills in the Norwegian Fjords as part of exercise Rogue Wizards 2018.

Credit 139 Air Wing, RNORAF Merlin Operating at RNoN Haakonsvern, Norway

The helicopters were flown by ‘Flying Sailors’ from the Merlin Training Squadron at RNAS Culdrose.

824 NAS is the unit which trains students in every aspect of the Merlin helicopter, equipping them with the knowledge and skills that will be required once they deploy on operations at sea.

Based at RNoN Haakonsvern near the city of Bergen, the crews flew intensively to locate, track and attack the Norwegian submarine HNoMS Uthaug, dedicated to the exercise. Starting offshore in the North Sea, the scenario quickly developed and progressed inland to the deep fjords allowing training to take place in a relatively unfamiliar environment.

The trainee pilots, observers and aircrewmen taking part in the trip, were not only responsible for operating the aircraft whilst detached, but they also planned and executed the transit from Cornwall through Scotland and across the North Sea.

“The North Atlantic remains one of the most important for the Royal Navy,” Detachment Commander Lt Cdr Dan Waskett said. “Developing ASW skills to operate within the fjords and challenging conditions of Norway, is critical to support future Merlin Force tasking in support of UK interests.

“In tandem, the opportunity to work with our Norwegian counterparts as they develop their NH90 ASW aircraft has been invaluable.

“Their support of this exercise has been first rate, no doubt recognising as we do, the value of our strong NATO commitments.”

Once the students pass the course and are awarded their Wings, they will move to frontline squadrons where they can expect to regularly deploy overseas on both exercises and operations in support of UK tasking.