As part of military support to the NHS throughout the UK during the Coronavirus pandemic, Merlin helicopters from Culdrose will act as flying ambulances say the Royal Navy.
The Royal Navy say that the helicopters – typically used for submarine-hunting – will provide round-the-clock assistance to the NHS and South West Ambulance Services, serving a population of more than 4,500,000 people across Cornwall, Devon, Dorset, Bristol, Somerset, the Channel Islands and the Isles of Scilly.
“Three Merlin Mk2 helicopters and their crews from 820 Naval Air Squadron have been set aside for the task, aided not just by their own engineers and technicians, but the entire support network at the Helston airbase: medics, air traffic controllers, safety and logistic experts. The submarine-hunting equipment which normally fills the helicopters’ cabins has been stripped out so the Merlins can carry several stretchers, passengers and stores quickly, smoothly and efficiently over long distances.”
“This is very different from our ordinary role, but jobs like this are in our DNA. We are helping out the nation and the National Health Service during these testing times – it’s a real moment for everyone to pull together,” said Commander Chris ‘Grassy’ Knowles, 820’s Commanding Officer.
“It demands a real team effort for us here at Culdrose in terms of getting the aircraft and the crews ready, getting all the logistical support in place – providing air traffic controllers, meteorological information, so that we can operate 24 hours a day.”