Merlin helicopters from Royal Naval Air Station Culdrose will spend the next week searching for submarines in NATO’s largest Mediterranean Anti-Submarine Exercise, Dynamic Manta 2018.

During the exercise, the helicopters will protect and attack the NATO submarines, and work with the helicopters, maritime patrol aircraft and ships of ten other nations say the Royal Navy.

“It is important for aircrews from various NATO nations’ to come and train together in this truly challenging environment,” explained Greece’s Commodore Andreas Vettos, who is overseeing the aerial element of the exercise.

“I’m convinced that the benefit for all participating nations will be immense and will assist in preparing our aircrews for future tasks and operations.”

Detachment Commander, Lieutenant Commander Richard ‘Whisky’ Walker said:

“After a long transit from RNAS Culdrose, our Merlin helicopters have arrived in Catalina and are ready to take part in Exercise Dynamic Manta 2018. Our main role is to hunt for the six NATO submarines during our time here, working alongside other aircraft to find them.

Whilst we are here in Sicily, it will be an intensive flying programme for us. Our submarine hunt will start immediately. Engineers are now busy in the hangar fitting all of the role equipment that enables us to hunt for submarines, including dipping sonar, an infra-red camera and various other kit. Then we will hand over to further crews to continue to mission.”

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Daniele Mandelli

30 updated from the original 44 procured too small for the task at hand in my opinion, especially as the ASCS mission has been placed on them with the pending demise of Sea Kings of 849 NAS.

Is there any chance the remaining 8 can be updated to take on the role?

Or, as pointed out, with Crowsnest being transferrable is it really Ok to just attach as needed to existing?

[…] post Royal Navy Merlin helicopters begin massive submarine hunt appeared first on UK Defence […]

how is it going for us?

Lee H

Hi Daniele
The money unfortunately would come out of the RDEL pot which is already stretched, you would have to reduce the overall FAA run cost from somewhere.
I am sure the RN are thinking of innovative ways to solve the problem.

Daniele Mandelli

Fair enough answer Lee.

One Merlin Squadron has already been disbanded and 848 NAS from the CHF also gone with the transfer of Merlin from the RAF so what else to cut?

Only Culdrose and Yeovilton left now Prestwicks gone bases wise.

I guess the solution is bolt on as necessary as planned unless there is an uplift in spend.


Is this innovative? Use Schniedal camcopters or similar to carry active dipping pingers. At just 200kg MTW they can fly for up to 10 hours whilst the ship steams slowly using passive sonar. Four of them would still leave plenty of room on a T45 for a multi mission Wildcat that would act as a QRA with Stingrays if a Sub is actually found. This has got to be cheaper and more 24/7 than one or two massive Merlins and for this exercise it would have avoided the 2,300km transit from the UK to Sicily.

Sceptical Richard

What’s the payload of a camcopter? I doubt it could lift even the cable, let alone the sonar…

Sceptical Richard

Like scrapping the recently introduced Sea Venom capable Wildcat? That would be really clever…

Mr J Bell

Cut the foreign aid budget by 50% That would save £7billion a year, more than enough to upgrade 8 Merlin’s and put them into ASW role. Then how about not giving the EU £34 billion as a Brexit bill when the UK was always one of only 3 EU countries that ever paid in more than we got out. Or how about not spending £70-100 billion on HST2 or £54 billion for a single new nuclear power station. Seems to me there is plenty of money. It just boils down to choices and how our government chooses to spend our… Read more »

Daniele Mandelli


Really that much for a Power Station??? Wow.


I think the vast majority of the UK population would agree with you. Unfortunately, the government is not listening!


Mr bell – I was with you on most of your comment there but can I gently point out that HS2 is not going to cost £70 Bn let alone £100 Bn. And whatever it DOES cost the money will be going directly into our economy and especially local economies along the route as it is built. We need massive infrastructure investment and if you are going to build a new railway to add capacity (as our Main Lines are currently full) then adding High Speed costs very little extra. The trains of course will be, as all trains are,… Read more »


To knock twenty minutes off a train journey for a few elites if they want it so bad let them pay for it.


I don’t agree with the “few elites” characterisation but if we’re talking about business people then I’d say that with laptops, tablets, mobile phones and internet data plans it means that for pretty much every business person travelling on those trains it’s not a 20 minutes that was being lost anyway so they’re not even saving those 20 minutes to add to their working day. I have no problems with spending money on rail infrastructure but personally I think that less money could be spent way more effectively by looking at increased frequencies on key existing routes and/or getting previously… Read more »

Sceptical Richard

Gentlemen, unfortunately, defence, like every other public service, is paid for by a strong economy. A strong economy requires infrastructure investment. The money we pay into the EU is good value compared with the benefits our economy derives from being a member of the largest market in the world. The City of London alone gets about 70 billion a year from passporting rights across Europe. Our financial and allied service sectors account for about 25% to 30% of our GDP. That’s a lot of tax revenue for the Treasury. Lose that and you lose your ability to fund Defence. I… Read more »

Andy G

I’d like to see some of our defence spending being paid for by the foreign aid budget, while also targetting a large section of that budget towards foreign security matters.

Maybe some foreign country might need the aid of a T31 at some point.

Perhaps a budget of 3% of GDP for defence + aid.

William D Thomson

Trident costs how much!!!!


Valuble experience seeing as Putin is undergoing the delusion that Russia, with a smaller economy than Canada, south korea and Italy, is still the USSR.

Andy G

And yet here they are, lethal and kinda mad.


Lethal, kinda mad and on a time limit. Russia is the largest country in the world with massive amounts of natural resources and a respectablely large population. And yet despite that their GDP is tiny in comparison, not just tiny but getting even smaller as they are in a recession. Which means thay as it’s economy shrinks Putin has to dedicate more and more of the country’s taxes to the military, which despite the tolerance of Russians to massive military spending at the expense of everything else, is not in any way sustainable. And now he’s just started an arms… Read more »

Andy G

Maybe he has already won, he has low yield nukes which he can deliver anywhere, anytime from land, sea and air. Apparently he now has nuclear powered cruise missles, nuclear armed UUV and hypersonics. We are nowhere near having this ability They know they cant outspend NATO though, so dont try. How much did it cost them to take a piece of Georgia and Ukraine? Not a lot. I think his strategy is to get as much territory back as they can without triggering article 5 or a large nuke getting involved. I agree they are on a frightening time… Read more »

Mark L

“Apparently he now has nuclear powered cruise missiles, nuclear armed UUV and hypersonics” – I’ll bet the key word in that sentence was”apparently”.


TH – Name us ONE export deal that has come as a result of Foreign Aid. We gave £ Bns to India over the years but they ordered Russian and French fighters. The last thing the Indians bought from the UK was HMS Hermes. I would be OK with Foreign Aid if it was structured like the Yanks did with Marshall Aid – It could only be used to buy US equipment and contract US companies. In other words back door Government subsidies for US exports. Brilliant idea! Better than funding African Girl Bands …. And why are arms sale… Read more »

Andy G

Agree with this, its a great big budget, make it work for us.


I noticed in a couple of photos on this exercise ‘elsewhere’ there were some mothballed Italian AF Merlins in the hangar the RN are using. Maybe we could ‘make them an offer they can’t refuse’?

Daniele Mandelli


When we were in Afghanistan to increase the helicopters in theatre as we were so short, typically, the 22 Merlins of the RAF were supplemented by 6 meant for Denmark in short order.

Who else operate Merlin who might have some spare and available?


They only fly backwards though.


Dumb question but are you all discussing the possibilities for buying second hand from other countries because it would be a cost effective solution or has the Merlin production line closed down so buying existing airframes (or reviving some of our own mothballed ones if they are not too cannibalised to save) is now the only option available to increase our Merlin numbers?

Andy A

Sorry but warmongers? No one wants war but isn’t the best way to stop war is deter with a strong defence?
Sorry but those that want us to disarm totally would u have us rely on faith to protect us from our enemies? And trust me in my forty years our enemies have grown both domestic and abroad.

Robert Blay

I cannot agree with big cuts to the foreign aid budget, that is this countries soft power budget if you like, of which we are a world leader, the foreign aid budget is used to prevent wars and conflict by aiding poor countries to build there economies. Stable countries are far less likely to go to war as they have more to loose, people who have an education, no matter how basic are less likely to be radicalized. And yes we give money to rich countries like Pakistan, but British companies Benefit greatly from investment from such countries, and to… Read more »

Daniele Mandelli

You sound like Peder’s brother. Both happy to disarm the nation but perfectly happy for everyone else to keep their military. Textbook Momentum Hard Left Marxist Propaganda = Anyone remotely patriotic is Racist. Anyone who voted for Brexit is Racist. Anyone who wants controlled Immigration is Racist. Anyone who disagrees with the hard left who actually have the right to free speech is either a – Warmonger. Racist. Thug. Votes for Hitler. Islamophobe. Little Englander. All terms used by the both of you over the last few months on this site. Ironically the other nations of the world are allowed… Read more »


A world leader in giving our borrowed money away to countries who can’t be assed to provide infrastucture for their own people but can be assed to develop nuclear weapons using our “aid”who then promise to not lob them at their neighbours in order to get more “aid”,madness sheer bloody madness.

Robert Blay If you have the time, have a read of the above article, it’s very well written and balanced.


I couldn’t care less about some humanitarian crisis in some allah forsaken hell hole,we have been doing this for sixty odd years and according to charities and NGO’s nothing has changed apart from massive population growth Ethiopia for instance,why not let them trade instead of EU tariffs on their goods or EU fishing fleets depleting the fish stocks on the West coast of Africa let them catch the damned fish and sell it to us it’s not rocket science.


Great to see TH back on barking mad form! Russia is not the enemy being one of his more memorable gems! Oh yes I am says Mr. Putin and here’s my new shiny missile system to take you all out and your holiday homes as well. It really is pointless folks to continue a debate on cutting the existing overseas aid budget! This government is never going to have the nuts to do that! The brexit bill is going up and will dominate expenditure over the next five years. As the number 5 or 6 economy in the world it… Read more »

Daniele Mandelli

I agree with all of this.


Reality show president as opposed to some south side of Chicago community organiser,whatever Trump was is irrelevant he is now the president of the most powerful country in the world with the biggest defence budget by far of any other country do you seriously believe it is in the UK defence industries interests to continually insult and ridicule the guy?

Daniele Mandelli

Nope. We should be pushing for a trade deal as he’s Anglophile and likes the UK. Unfortunately the likes of Sadiq Khan get excited about the thought of President Trump visiting yet are quite happy entertaining many Foriegn Secretaries of nations who ban Israelis from travelling. Ooops hypocrisy nut when had that mattered when it’s bash Trump time?


What TH seeems incapable of understanding is “not the enemy” doesn’t equate to cuddley teddy bear. Just as a bear will always be bear, Russia will Russia. Fear is not necessary but a modicum of weariness and therefore preparedness for the sake of self-preservation is necessary.
What people who quote GDP numbers do not seem to understand is Russia doesn’t import any raw or finished materials. This combined with lower living standards and post-Soviet agricultural reforms, has the effect of make their spending go far further than it would in the West.

Robert Blay I would encourage anyone with strong views of the foreign aid budget to have a read of the above article, it’s very well written and balanced, and written by an ex Naval officer not some journalist from the Independent. It’s a good read. Enjoy.


Marc, no I don’t but he puts himself out there for just that. America’s trust in the UK militarily is waning and with good reason. A quid pro quo for a top trade deal may be that we increase our defence budget in real terms over the next five years which means more war fighting vessels and an unmothballing – is that a word? – of 120+ challengers and 16+ Apaches. Yes I know that new Apaches are on order but it’s a ACC regiment short. If we show a committment on this front which will help the US as… Read more »


Have they found this massive submarine yet btw?