Merlin anti-submarine helicopters of 820 Naval Air Squadron have embarked onboard HMS Prince of Wales ahead of large-scale exercises in the Arctic.

The Royal Navy say here that the aircraft – combined with their crews’ extensive training – make them among the best submarine hunting force in the world.

“The squadron, based at RNAS Culdrose in Cornwall, is dedicated to protecting both the UK’s aircraft carriers and last year played a central role throughout the carrier strike group’s deployment to the Indo-Pacific.”

Commanding Officer, Commander Ian Varley, was quoted as saying:

“The focus of our last five years has been all about HMS Queen Elizabeth and getting the first carrier strike group up and running and deployed. We’ve done very little so far with HMS Prince of Wales – but that is set to change this year. These things don’t just happen overnight. We have planned to spend more time with HMS Prince of Wales this year than we will with HMS Queen Elizabeth.”

The carrier leads NATO’s Maritime High Readiness Force – an international task group formed to deal with major global events – and deploys for the first time in that role to Exercise Cold Response.

HMS Albion also recently left the UK bound for the Norwegian fjords to take part in the largest NATO military exercise in Norway in more than 30 years.

The Royal Navy say here that HMS Albion is heading for the Arctic as the spearhead of amphibious/commando forces taking part in Exercise Cold Response – a month-long test by land, sea and air of allied forces to operate in one of the most challenging environments on the planet.

“Albion prepared for her Arctic mission with intensive operational training in and around Plymouth which culminated earlier this month in a joint disaster relief/civilian evacuation test, working side-by-side with the Dutch Navy’s HNLMS Karel Doorman. Alongside landing support ship RFA Mounts Bay, Albion leads the UK’s amphibious input into Cold Response, with “a significant level” of littoral strike operations – traditional-style commando raids – staged in the fjords, with the British force integrating with numerous allies, including the US, Norwegians, French, Germans and Italians.”

George has a degree in Cyber Security from Glasgow Caledonian University and has a keen interest in naval and cyber security matters and has appeared on national radio and television to discuss current events. He also works for the NHS. George is on Twitter at @geoallison
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maurice10
maurice10
1 month ago

What are the real dangers of an unfriendly exchange with a Russian naval vessel, based on what we witnessed in the recent TV doc ‘Warship.’ The encounters filmed in that programme brought home just how brittle the current peace is? There must be a worsening in the mood of all ships operating in these waters and an even greater apprehension about a possible clash?

farouk
farouk
1 month ago
Reply to  maurice10

I watched an old black and white film a few years ago on the very subject called the Bedford incident scary stuff.

bedfordi.jpg
Last edited 1 month ago by farouk
Malcolm Rich
Malcolm Rich
1 month ago
Reply to  farouk

Don’t shout fire at the wrong time 💩

Barry Larking
Barry Larking
1 month ago
Reply to  Malcolm Rich

That is why the command is ‘shoot’ or ‘launch’.

Mr Bell
Mr Bell
1 month ago
Reply to  maurice10

Id arrest them. If they enter uk waters. Warning shot. Leave waters immediately then sink them. War is coming against Russia regardless might as well face upto the mad man now before his forces have destroyed ukraine, regrouped and started threatening other countries.

Brian Doyle
Brian Doyle
1 month ago
Reply to  Mr Bell

I quote a very old Russian proverb
” If you invite the Bear upon the dance floor,remember it is always The Bear that
Decides when and how the dance shall end “

DEE
DEE
1 month ago
Reply to  Mr Bell

Couldn’t have said it better myself

Quentin D63
Quentin D63
1 month ago

Hopefully any increase in defence spending could mean some more helos, upgrades to the Wildcats and maritime UAVs purchased? Here’s hoping for the best for the 🇬🇧

Jon
Jon
1 month ago
Reply to  Quentin D63

Some ASV frigates would be useful too. A slow build of the Type 26, leading to yet another capability gap in the 2030s, is crazy. If we get the wrong contract now, we’ll end up wasting billions on the delays themselves and be forced to upgrade the T31 or T32, pouring yet more money in and still ending up with an inferior fleet.

Wes Hardin
Wes Hardin
1 month ago
Reply to  Jon

These ships are vulnerable to the new 3M22 Zircon. These hypersonic missiles give Russia the ballance of power at sea. The QE and Prince of Wales are only good in proxy wars and flying the flag in a full on war with Russia they wouldn’t last long, probably a couple of hours at best.

James
James
1 month ago

How easy would it be for these to locate an Astute or a Vanguard that didnt want to be found?

Deep32
Deep32
1 month ago
Reply to  James

Not very, or any other SM that didn’t want to be found. ASW is very challenging and on occasion complex. You generally need lots of different assets and sometimes a large slice of luck.

Steve M
Steve M
1 month ago

“We have planned to spend more time with HMS Prince of Wales this year than we will with HMS Queen Elizabeth.”
Does anyone else find this upsetting that our ASW Helo’s can only work with/support 1 QE class at a time, I know the state of our manning/equip is bad but really we don’t have enough to provide ASW Helo’s for escorts and both Carriers 😡

Last edited 1 month ago by Steve M
ChariotRider
ChariotRider
1 month ago
Reply to  Steve M

Hi Steve, Yes I agree and no we really don’t have enough helos for the job. We could easily improve the situation by fitting a dipping sonar and may be a sonobouy dispenser to the Wildcats. South Korea have fitted the same dipping sonar to their Wildcats that we have fitted to the Merlins, so it is not as if we have to pay the full integrations costs or introduce a new sonar! Merlin apparently has better endurance which may be why the RN has focused on it for ASW ops, but I really think we should provide some depth… Read more »

Mr Bell
Mr Bell
1 month ago
Reply to  ChariotRider

Interesting. Agree. In that case a few more wildcats needed as well.

Jonno
Jonno
1 month ago
Reply to  Mr Bell

Chinooks!

Paul.P
Paul.P
1 month ago
Reply to  ChariotRider

I would prefer the other option: pay what it costs for a few more Merlins and fit them with Marte like the Italians.

Supportive Bloke
Supportive Bloke
1 month ago
Reply to  ChariotRider

I think we would be better of using Merlin for this role and then backfilling.

Merlin can carry the dipping sonar and torpedoes / buoys at the same time.

Anything else is too light for the trinity.

Once drones are more of a thing the buoys and torpedoes will probably be prosecuted by unmanned platforms or at least launched to dart with.

James
James
1 month ago
Reply to  Steve M

Not getting defensive here but the doctrine was only to ever have 1 carrier available equipped 365 days a year. It was never the plan to have 2 fully equipped carriers available at all times.

Daniele Mandelli
Daniele Mandelli
1 month ago
Reply to  Steve M

Which is why some of us have been calling for Merlin increases for years rather than Tanks or other things. The RN has 2 front line Merlin Squadrons. It did have 3. 1 supports the carriers, 1 provides ships flights for the ASW T23s. Merlin also now has to carry out the ASCS mission now the dedicated Sea Kings of 849 NAS were cut. Merlin numbers down from 44 to 30. 11 were not upgraded to HM2 standard and were cannibalised. The RN did not plan to have 2 aviation groups for the carriers, as only 1 was to be… Read more »

Supportive Bloke
Supportive Bloke
1 month ago

A very, very good point well expressed.

Ian
Ian
1 month ago

Hi D.M…I think he’s down the bank counting his money……I don’t think he worries about the damage he did to our national defence with a stroke of the pen here and there
Ian

Pongoglo
Pongoglo
1 month ago

Bet Pres Zelensky is really crying out for more ASW to defend his capitol as the Russian tanks close in on the bridge. I’m as big a fan of the RN as the next man but we’ve got to get real , it’s the land domain we’ve neglected too long and through no fault of its own the British Army is in a pretty dire state . Challenger 3 looks set to be a pretty good tank and against the cold war era types the Russians are fielding in Ukraine Challenger 2 would more than its own , but 148… Read more »

David Steeper
David Steeper
1 month ago
Reply to  Pongoglo

Poland and Germany will/should provide NATO heavy armour in central europe. We weren’t able to field 3 Armoured Brigades in 1st Gulf war 30 years ago with 160,000 regulars and 80.000 TA.

Daniele Mandelli
Daniele Mandelli
1 month ago
Reply to  Pongoglo

I agree with the sentiment P but to say “through no fault of its own” is not correct. The Army alone has pissed 11 billion up the wall. The Army was not short on cash. Tracer. Then FRES. Then tracks, CH3, WCSP, in 3 Armoured Brigades in 2010. Money available to upgrade all. 2015. Choose Ajax. 2015, also decide BEFORE finishing Challenger, Warrior and AS90 upgrades that in fact it’s wheels and Boxer they want. Leaving a sub optimal mix of wheels and tracks with the firepower on tracks and wheeled Boxer one of the most expensive APCs bereft of… Read more »

Paul
Paul
1 month ago
Reply to  Pongoglo

We need the asw to protect the carriers that will launch the aircraft that would secure the airspace above any ground troops. All of these components are just as important as the other we need to be strong both defensively and offensively. We don’t need to have our own belgrano with our QE Class. All of the equipment is useless without good operators and our numbers a falling rapidly.

Klonkie
Klonkie
1 month ago

Hi Di

I think they withdrew some of the ASW Merlin’s for re -fitting to Crow nest AWAC, hence the reduction to 30 ASW’s platforms? Totally agree on your point re Merlin numbers, or rather the lack thereof.

Daniele Mandelli
Daniele Mandelli
1 month ago
Reply to  Klonkie

No mate, when they were upgraded to HM2 only 30 got the upgrade. 10 or 11 remained as “hanger queens” still as HM1.

For some years many hoped they were still convertible if the money became available.

Klonkie
Klonkie
1 month ago

Thanks for the clarification DM . Fingers crossed we see a defence spend boost in the near future , be good to have them all operational.

Max Jones
Max Jones
1 month ago
Reply to  Steve M

Generally the two shouldn’t both be going on larger deployments like this at the same time. They haven’t completed synced yet but the idea is one in one out with regards to maintenance, refits and additional operations.

Even with QE sailing now, she won’t be doing large scale exercises or embarking a full air wing.

If we had two air wings then one would essentially never get used, or both get used for a while then neither for the rest of the time. Regardless it would be a pretty useful way of dealing with things considering what the situation is.

Steve M
Steve M
1 month ago
Reply to  Max Jones

So we are expecting the limited Merlins and the aircrew and engineers to be at sea for x months come back and go again while the ship has 6 months off for maintenance! that’s a very quick way to kill the birds and not retain staff!

Max Jones
Max Jones
1 month ago
Reply to  Steve M

Unless POW is currently embarking over a dozen HM2s, I’m guessing maintenance is factored in. The entire squadron isn’t loaded onto one carrier. It serves both – one at a time with maintenance between.

Mr Bell
Mr Bell
1 month ago

Need more. More Merlins, 3-4 more astutes, more type 26 (8 isnt anywhere near enough) more mk41vls for type 45, 26, 31, 32. Interim Anti ship missile. Get 26 full sets asap. More wildcat More apache (this is a bargain for what is delivers as battlefield effect) More F35B. At least another 36 More typhoon. Retain tranche 1. Get tranche 4 and order another 24-36. More poseidon. 3-4 more. More Wedgetail. Put the order back up to 7 aircraft. More Chally 3s. Upgrade the whole fleet and fit them all with Trophy. Ditto Trophy for any armoured vehicle entering a… Read more »

James
James
1 month ago
Reply to  Mr Bell

Ideal shopping list, now what tax rate do you propose to pay for it?

Fender
Fender
1 month ago
Reply to  James

Therein lies the issue. With all this talk of an increase in defence spending, I’d be interested in views as to what could be done if the defence budget was boosted by a relatively ‘small’ increase of around £2.5bn. I’m thinking of fairly immediate improvements not projects for 2030. For me, (and I’m not up to speed with current unit costs so I may be miles out of what’s available) I’d like to see some additional Typhoons, air launched stand-off anti shipping missiles, a handful of additional wildcats (with anti sub warfare capabilities) and an interim anti ship missile. Not… Read more »

Supportive Bloke
Supportive Bloke
1 month ago
Reply to  Fender

Exactly the right thought process.

Make the most of what we have;
Order a few more of what we have;
Upgrade what is coming online to full spec;
Try and avoid too many ‘new’ projects.

Pete
Pete
1 month ago
Reply to  Fender

Indeed What are the lower cost relatively quick force multipliers. Suggest:

Fit RN wildcat with dipping donar and two way data links.

6 additional Merlin and add Marte-ER for Merlin and Eurofighter (Italians already integrating)

Fit P8 with uk torpedoes (effect) and LRASM (efficiency of integration)

Fit Army Wildcat with Martlet to allow taking out supply trucks etc . Leave Apache for Armour

Accelerate Brimstone on Boxer / Ajax overwatch concepts.

Double volume of Protector and integrate Brimstone.

Add 12 x canister / booster launched Spear Cap 3 to every surface escort and River batch II

Steve M
Steve M
1 month ago
Reply to  James

Yeh need to balance uplift, we are a Maritime nation so i would say short term need to increase P8′ & E-7 whci can be built quickly but that need to be backed up with the means to prosecute so need Air launched AShm that can be used on P-8, Typhoon Tranche4 and F-35B, retainf Typhoon tranche 1 for dedicated QRA the old AIM-120 can shoot down Bears etc, long term as its seems to take so long to build ships we need more escorts for CSG & ARG plus G-I-UK patrol. We are never going to have 500 tanks… Read more »

andyreeves
andyreeves
1 month ago
Reply to  Steve M

Take a look at the inventory of AMARG regeneration faculty in Arizona this kind of place is where the UK should be shopping B1b lancers 313 f 16′ over a hundred f 15′, I’d like to see a trade agreement with the Americans where the UK gets first option to purchase a major piece of equipment as it is retired the naval inactive ships maintenance facility shows the naval vessels in storage the size of the UK armed forces çould be doubled with prudent spending and done so quickly

Steve M
Steve M
1 month ago
Reply to  andyreeves

Hi Andy, apart from A-10’s i don’t think good idea to buy variety of different types of aircraft, We have skills an equipment to handle Typhoon and F-35’s trying stand upthe support equipment and trained engineering etc to star having F-15’s/16’s would be conter productive. I think we should,have bought F15 C & E and F-16’s back in 80/90’s rather than Tornado/Jaguar etc but used our ‘special’ relationship to build in UK under licence to keep the skills in country maybe have RR engines. biggest needs right now is strike weapons especially maritime, surely some geek can update StormShadow?

Jon
Jon
1 month ago
Reply to  Steve M

I thought the Storm Shadow upgrade was nearly complete. Spear 4 moved into service last year.

Ian Brown
Ian Brown
1 month ago
Reply to  Steve M

That’s the issue, we are a maritime nation that imports 80% of our food, let alone other supplies. Let’s face it, in WWI & WWII, it was a close run thing insofar as our ability to feed the nation. Today, how easily would it be for Russia to park some Kilo’s off our coast and starve us in short order? I cannot see the Channel Tunnel being a savour as other European nations will have the same problems and priorities.

Jason Hartley
Jason Hartley
1 month ago
Reply to  James

From the huge welfare bill.

Simon
Simon
1 month ago
Reply to  Jason Hartley

The part of the budget actuality spent on welfare isn’t as large as it seems as old age pensions etc are lumped in the budget

Monkey spanker
Monkey spanker
1 month ago
Reply to  Jason Hartley

How about a big tax rise on the richer in society as well. Good luck getting pensioners to take a cut. Never going to happen.

Nigel Collins
Nigel Collins
1 month ago
Reply to  Mr Bell

And Marte ER for Merlin, P-8 and Typhoon. “Marte MK2/S is a fixed/rotary wing-launched medium-range anti-ship missile weapon system, designed to meet operational requirements in complex littoral environments and blue water scenarios. The weapon is available for the new generation of naval antisurface warfare helicopters and Maritime Patrol Aircraft. Navies operating medium naval helicopters such as the NH-90 or the AW101 will therefore be able to maintain a common stock of missiles for deployment from both their helicopters and experience significant logistic commonalities with the Marte ship-launched MK2/N variant. This new missile is the latest version of the Marte MK2 that first entered… Read more »

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Frank62
Frank62
1 month ago
Reply to  Nigel Collins

It certainly seems nonsense to have ship bourne helis with either little ASW or no anti surface missile capabilities when other nations do it fine. Plays Russian roulette which type is embarked with which deficiencies.

Supportive Bloke
Supportive Bloke
1 month ago
Reply to  Mr Bell
The Merlin’s can be built onto the canabalised airframes.

The airframes are stripped so can be inspected for a fixed price job to get them back into service.

Sure it will be expensive but it will be quicker and less risky than starting yet another project and the Merlin support already exists.

No idea what happened to the formatting at the top.

Daveyb
Daveyb
1 month ago

The HC1 airframes in storage at Shawbury have been cannibalised for parts. So in essence they can be considered as bare shells. Using these will still be cheaper than purchasing 8 new builds. The RAF has in the past done similar with the purchase of the South African Pumas. These had to be rebuilt from the shell up.

Supportive Bloke
Supportive Bloke
1 month ago
Reply to  Daveyb

Sorry for expressing myself so badly.

You expressed what I meant properly!

I agree: the fleet can be increased at a fixed price and reasonably quickly with these shells.

Greg Smith
Greg Smith
1 month ago
Reply to  Mr Bell

Are you the CEO of the military industrial complex??? #IGotsTaKnow 👍🏿

Ian Brown
Ian Brown
1 month ago
Reply to  Mr Bell

Mr Bell, I agree with you 110%. As for tax rate, 50% found in other government spending, 50% from a wealth tax imposed on energy companies and Banks that are making money hand over fist. Then, to supply there rebuilding we are going to have to pay more tax, there’s no way about it. 1% at a minimum, at least.

Goldilocks
Goldilocks
1 month ago

I hear the gazelle’s are now being replaced by 30 odd HC135’s

Daveyb
Daveyb
1 month ago
Reply to  Goldilocks

The H135 or H145M?

The H135 is the smaller aircraft of the two and would be a better replacement for the Gazelle, Whilst the H145M is in the same class as the Wildcat. Both aircraft are used for UK military helicopter training.

Goldilocks
Goldilocks
1 month ago
Reply to  Daveyb

HC135 I believe

Bill
Bill
1 month ago

Albion and Bulwark must not be allowed to be pensioned off without at least, like for like replacements. The ability however to deploy a whole Commando and supporting arms by landing craft and helicopter should be up for serious consideration.

Jonno
Jonno
1 month ago

I think we should grab some Chinooks and fit them out with folding rotors and have them as ASW helos to operate off the carriers which have the space. Aren’t we buying some new ones.

andyreeves
andyreeves
1 month ago
Reply to  Jonno

Should have kept the seakings many nations still use them

David Steeper
David Steeper
1 month ago
Reply to  Jonno

The problem would be who would pay for the conversion RAF or RN.

David Steeper
David Steeper
1 month ago
Reply to  David Steeper

Ah your talikng about new build. In that case Merlin is already in service and superior.

Ernest
Ernest
1 month ago

Can anyone tell me, Has POW got any F-35 jets on this juant or just anti sub helicopters?

Steve M
Steve M
1 month ago
Reply to  Ernest

Just Helo’s

Ernest
Ernest
1 month ago
Reply to  Steve M

Thank you.

David Craig Stevens
David Craig Stevens
1 month ago

The royal navy should take a greater interest in halifax and Canada’s east coast ports as supply bases and safe havens.merlins based in cfb shearwater would be smashing.

Wes Hardin
Wes Hardin
1 month ago

Let’s hope they get the Sub before it can get off half a dozen Zircon’s.

Pacman27
Pacman27
1 month ago

Couple of questions

  1. is it just me that thinks sending our carriers out of port without a load out is potentially tempting fate a bit too much in these days?
  2. Does POW have the Bedford array and are we going to start testing it anytime soon?
  3. isn’t it now critical the class gets the latest Sampson radar and CEC upgrades to realise its full potential?
Monkey spanker
Monkey spanker
1 month ago
Reply to  Pacman27

F35 are already on deployment to Estonia. 2 I believe so far. Hopefully the Jets are easy to get onto the ship if needed. It’s not too far away. There is so much needed just now. I’m not in a position to say if the navy needs more merlins but if they ask for them hopefully they get them back. A more pressing issue I would say is warrior replacement. I think boxer has to be more of a bulldog replacement if that’s the role they are getting put into. I’ve not heard what boxer is actually for yet. Where… Read more »