Two Merlin helicopters joined frigates HMS Northumberland and Westminster as part of NATO’s Trident Juncture exercise off Norway.
Their mission say the MoD, was to ‘protect’ a task group of more than half a dozen ships, notably including the USS Iwo Jima, from submarine attack.
Alongside their anti-submarine role, the Royal Navy say that the Merlins have been called upon as general “buses of the sky”, flying personnel and kit around the numerous ships in the NATO task group, such as the force’s flagship, American assault ship USS Iwo Jima.
“It is really good to prove our ability to operate with our closest allies and Exercise Trident Juncture has done just that, showing that we can operate from a foreign amphibious ship such as the Iwo Jima,” said Lt Ross Wiltshire, one of Northumberland’s two Merlin pilots.
“Landing on such a big flight deck, after flying from the Royal Navy’s smallest, was quite a contrast but is definitely a career highlight for me.”
Commander Sarah Birchett, 814’s Commanding Officer, said:
“It’s provided an excellent opportunity for the two ships’ flights to practise their seagoing skills – both airborne and as fully-involved members of the ships’ company; from conducting fire-fighting and damage control to racing to get the helicopters airborne to counter the underwater threat, all whilst working alongside our NATO allies. And all of this done within the beautiful, but cold, waters of the glorious Norwegian coastline.”