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NAVY NEWS, JANUARY 2011


7


ONLY mad dogs and Englishmen venture Baltic.


out in the mid-day sun. And only commandos venture out when it’s


weren’t going to be put off because it was a tad chilly.


from CHF’s home at Yeovilton to Salisbury Plain for a week of cold weather training alongside the Army.


Some 120 RN and RM personnel decamped


Actually, Exercise Wyvern Warrior was designed to test the ability of the helicopter force – which is heavily in demand in Afghanistan presently – to operate ‘over the horizon’, ie far from base. And as it happened, Wyvern Warrior began just as the UK endured its coldest November snap in 17 years. It was also one of the largest CHF exercises for many years involving Jungly Sea Kings from 846 and 848 Naval Air Squadrons plus Lynx AH7s of 847 NAS. For good measure, Army Air Corps Apaches were thrown into the mix.


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troops from 4 Rifl es, 3 Yorkshire Regiment, 19 Regiment Royal Artillery, 3 Logistic Support Regiment, 21 Signals and the Household Cavalry plus units from 1 and 3 Brigades. The CHF chaps and chapesses fl ew the gamut of missions you’d expect them to carry out: troop movements and load lifting for the Sea Kings, surveillance and reconnaissance for the Lynx, by day and night. As for the unexpectedly early snowfall and bitter temperatures, well CHF had 40 years of experience of Arctic operations to call upon; the force regularly heads to the Royal Norwegian Air Station Bardufoss – well inside the Arctic Circle – to top-up cold weather expertise. For Jungly training squadron 848 NAS Wyvern Warrior allowed crews to practise fi nal tactical training; a trainee Sea King aircrew and maintainers operate their aircraft from a tactical location and undertake a variety of missions by both day and night before joining either 845 or 846 in the front-line... ...which won’t be long. For this month CHF fl iers and ground crew in Blighty will either be heading to Afghanistan, or preparing to head to Afghanistan. 847 fl y into theatre to join elements of 845 and 846 already working with Allied forces, while the remaining 845/846 personnel and helicopters are conducting pre-deployment exercises with 3 Commando Brigade before the latter takes over as the lead British force in Helmand later this spring. For CHF’s CO Capt Jon Pentreath Wyvern Warrior proved to be a ‘win- win’: it tested his force’s ability to operate in harsh conditions they might expect in Helmand (temperatures there dip to -15˚C in winter) at the same time as their ability to operate ‘over the horizon’. With the helicopters heavily committed in Afghanistan, there’s been


relatively few opportunities to exercise at sea with the amphibious fl eet – although recent exercises involving HMS Ocean and HMS Albion have gone some way towards ‘regenerating’ this vital skill. “To ensure CHF personnel are trained for all environments, they need to operate in cold temperatures as well as hot, and the sub-zero weather conditions on Salisbury Plain during Wyvern Warrior proved to be a bonus not only for the littoral environment but also for that encountered in Afghanistan,” Capt Pentreath added.


The week-long ‘workout’ also allowed CHF personnel to train alongside Commando Helicopter Force, that is, who


re


Wyvern whiteout


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