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NAVY NEWS, JANUARY 2011


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BLIMEY. What’s this white stuff? The Arctic conditions gripping Blighty might have been a shock to the system for HMS Somerset’s ship’s company after six months in the Gulf, but at least there wasn’t any snow in Devonport...


...Unlike 80 miles to the northeast, as the ship’s flight found. The Mk8 Lynx of 229 Flight found much of the South West blanketed by snow as they left the frigate behind and made a bee-line for RNAS Yeovilton. The helicopter and her air/ground crew from 815 Naval Air Squadron had spent the previous six months patrolling the Arabian Gulf on Operation Telic.


presented some challenges to aircrew and engineers keeping the cab out there and in the air in support of the ship’s boarding operations and patrol duties.


the region and they have worked hard – producing some exceptional results,” said 229 Flight Commander Lt Stephen Cooke.


The ship and her Flight took part in several training and exercise taskings during their six months away: winching and force protection exercises with the Gibraltar Squadron; exercising in the Mediterranean with the American


“For most of my team this was their first deployment to And working at the height of the Middle East summer


ships of the USS Harry S Truman Carrier Battle Group; and working with the Kuwaiti Navy.


As 229 enjoyed some welcome ‘me time’ at home, another of the 19 Small Ship’s Flights under the 815 aegis was celebrating. 206 Flight have been awarded the annual Sopwith Pup Trophy (which does indeed feature the eponymous Great War biplane) by Rear Admiral Tom Cunningham, Chief of Staff (Aviation and Carriers). The trophy is awarded to the Flight which achieves the highest level of operational capability throughout the year, and obviously 206 were rather proud to receive the accolade for their time on board Somerset’s sister, HMS Portland. Even before they joined Portland in autumn 2008, 206 Flight


had already notched up another win with the Wigley Trophy for the best aviation performance on Operational Sea Training. And once on station off the Horn of Africa in early 2009, HMS Portland and her Flight threw themselves into the fight to protect merchant ships from piracy, notching up four counter- piracy interdictions, as well as 11 drug-busting efforts. Lt Cdr Joe Dransfield, 206 Flight Commander, said: “The Flight are really proud to receive this recognition for their hard work but by far the greatest reward was seeing the combined efforts of a highly-skilled team result in the direct disruption of illegal activity in the troubled waters of the Gulf of Aden.”


■ See February’s Navy News for a feature on 815, Europe’s largest helicopter squadron


picture: la(phot) vicki benwell, rnas yeovilton


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