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Just a drop in the ocean...

A SIGHT to strike fear into the heart of any enemy submariner – a Merlin launching an attack on her prey. Sadly, though, the world-leading helicopter has not suddenly been blessed with a

capacious bomb-bay or weapon racks as wide as her rotor span. This is a digitally-enhanced aggregated photograph, taken by the ship’s Executive

Warrant Officer, WO1 Anthony Starbuck, of HMS Sutherland’s aircraft launching a single training variant torpedo, with the EWO rapidly reeling off a series of images as the weapon arcs down into the Atlantic. The weapon drop, designed to simulate a Stingray torpedo attack, was part

of Exercise Halcyon Rendezvous, a small element of the overarching Auriga deployment led by flagship HMS Ark Royal. Supporting the Fleet in operations around the world, 829 Naval Air

to take part in the Joint Warrior exercise, helping Sutherland and her Merlin – Taliska – build an understanding as they took on surface and underwater threats. The frigate then met with the rest of the Auriga task group to

cross the Atlantic, honing her submarine-killing skills by hunting down the French nuclear boat FS Perle and American attack submarine USS Dallas in a game of “cat and mouse”, tracking both submarines on advanced sonar systems and carrying out multiple simulated attacks. Once across the ocean Sutherland and Taliska have been

tested by fast inshore attack craft, submarines, aircraft and surface ships, while the Naval Flying Standards Flight and Aviation Assurance teams also paid a visit in order to test the embarked Merlin aircrew and ensure that standards have been upheld. Both ship and Merlin flight have passed every test

with flying colours. Flight Commander Lt Cdr Hamish McKee is proud

of his flight’s integration with the ship, saying: “My team is ready to go – we’ve proved that we can operate with HMS Sutherland to the highest level and now we are ready to take on anything that is thrown at us.” During one of the exercises, the Merlin

closed the enemy task group at low level under radar coverage and provided Sutherland with accurate targeting information for her Harpoon missiles, allowing the ship to successfully engage and ‘destroy’ the enemy – a daredevil raid which prompted one of the American ships to dub Taliska and her crew the ‘Heroes of Auriga’. Cdr John Payne, Commanding Officer

of Sutherland, said: “I’ve been really impressed with the high reliability of the Merlin, and the support we’ve received from the task group has ensured that our aircraft is always available to the ship. “The Merlin itself has our


capability as a unit. “With the aircraft’s advanced

sensors and weapons, we can track and attack the enemy from long range. “The aircraft, in conjunction

press, Sutherland was due to take part

stages of Auriga, involving large numbers of NATO units ranged along the entire east coast of the USA. She has also taken part

in the Canadian Navy centennial celebrations, joining the Royal Navy contingent during the International

FAA – page 12 

Review by the Queen. More from Auriga –

pages 21-25 Squadrons of

the Fleet in the final

with the frigate’s 2087 sonar, combine to create a first-class submarine hunting force.” As Navy News went

to operational really

Squadron dispatched 01 Flight to join HMS Sutherland and the Carrier Strike Group in the spring for the Auriga deployment, in order to take part in large-scale multi-national task group exercises. Leaving Devonport in April, Sutherland initially sailed to Scotland

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