Helicopter carrier HMS Ocean and her aircraft have been taking part in exercises in the Eastern Mediterranean.
The exercise, Doğu Akdeniz, has been run since 1987 and tries to squeeze the gamut of naval operations into its ten-day run, this year focused on the waters off Aksaz in south-western Turkey.
The exercise seeks to educate NATO forces about potential threats and risks of a crisis in the eastern Mediterranean region, how to collectively deal with such a crisis, train staffs in the art of planning a complex peacekeeping/evacuation operation, and, at the coalface, teach sailors, marines, soldiers and aviators from different nations in the art of working together say the MoD.
According to a Royal Navy press release:
“The Commando Helicopter Force from RNAS Yeovilton in Somerset committed four aircraft to UK flagship Ocean for her autumn deployment: two battlefield Wildcats – used to reconnoitre ahead of the main body of ground forces – and two troop-carrying Merlin Mk3s, able to ferry 16 fully-kitted-out commandos into battle.
Thirty warships and submarines, more than two dozen aircraft and some 3,500 military personnel were involved, with the host nations providing the bulk of participants – 18 ships and submarines and a dozen aircraft and helicopters.”
Merlin pilot Lt Tom Richards said:
“The casualty evacuation and winch transfer serials were extremely challenging but immensely rewarding flying. Also being able to operate as one of several NATO participants allowed us to improve our ability to work with other nations – as demonstrated during the humanitarian aid phase as we shared the tasking with an SH-70 Sea Hawk and Cougar from the Turkish Navy and air force.”