The Plymouth Herald, | Posted: June 26, 2017
A Plymouth warship and Royal Navy helicopters are heading for cooler climes to hunt submarines lurking in the deep.
Earlier this year, the Merlin helicopter force proved they could hunt the enemy below in the warm waters of the Mediterranean.
Now Britain’s premier submarine hunters are striking out into the grey expanse of the Atlantic during the brilliantly named Exercise Dynamic Mongoose.
With the water temperature likely to be no more than 11˚C – about 5˚C colder than it was off Sicily back in March – the environment (such as temperature layers and salinity of the Atlantic) will play a key role in whether Sutherland’s and the Merlin’s sonar can locate submarines.
If they can, they’ll carry out mock attacks with Stingray torpedoes; a flare dropped into the water will signal a successful kill.
The frigate, tanker and Merlin are Britain’s input, taking their place alongside seven warships, half a dozen hunter-killer submarines, eight maritime patrol aircraft and four helicopters – 5,000 personnel in all, drawn from the host country plus the USA, Canada, Denmark, France, Germany, the Netherlands, Norway and Poland.
With over 50 hours of flying planned during the exercise, the crews will be looking to sharpen their deck landings in difficult sea-states before getting stuck-in to the business of hunting the submarines.
Flying from an auxiliary ship will be a little different for the Kingfishers of 829 NAS, who normally operate from the smaller Type 23 Frigates.
They are however, very acclimatised to working in the tempestuous seas of the North Atlantic.
As such, 829 NAS will be able to share their expertise with their colleagues; the ‘Tigers’ of 814 NAS who will be looking to recoup their maritime skills after a busy period supporting operations overseas over the last year, but mainly deployed ashore.
Lt Cdr Kev Murgatroyd, of 814 NAS and Detachment Commander for the exercise, said: “This is a great opportunity for us to put into practise our core role of hunting submarines in extremely challenging water conditions in an area of strategic value.”
“We relish the chance of working with our NATO partners and also combining our efforts between two squadrons.”