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Merlin fliers help Lancastrians deal with savage 'floods'

Merlin fliers help Lancastrians deal with savage 'floods'
19 July 2016
The fliers of the Commando Helicopter Force were invited to help fire and rescue teams and civic authorities in the North West practise dealing with a major civilian emergency – such as the terrible floods which ravaged much of Cumbria, Lancashire and Yorkshire last Christmas.

The day-long Exercise Triton II was billed as the largest real-time work out of its kind ever held in the region as three dozen military, civilian and emergency services and organisations came together to tackle with simulated severe flooding in Stockport and Oldham.

Yeovilton-based 845 Naval Air Squadron sent one Junglie Merlin north to Barton aerodrome on the western edge of Manchester, accompanied by an Oshkosh bowser and two crew to refuel the marines’ helicopter as well as an RAF Chinook also taking part.

The Merlin acted as troop carrier, the wocca-wocca as used to lift high volume water pumping equipment from Mayer’s Quarry in Mossley, Oldham, to nearby Dove Stone Reservoir. 

The exercise saw soldiers from 2nd Battalion The Mercian Regiment build defences at an electricity sub-station in Heyrod, Stockport, to protect it from rising flood waters.

The tasking offered us some challenging flying and it was an added bonus to support the civilian emergency services, alongside soldiers from 42 Infantry Brigade.

Lieutenant Tom Burrows, Merlin pilot 845 Naval Air Squadron

Troops and mountain rescue personnel were then flown by Merlin to help with a search and rescue exercise at Hollingworth Lake, Littleborough, before spending the rest of the day buzzing around Greater Manchester moving military and civilian personnel between the various hotspots such as the site of a bus crash into a river.

“For our part, it was a very rewarding day,” said Merlin pilot Lieutenant Tom Burrows. “The tasking offered us some challenging flying and it was an added bonus to support the civilian emergency services, alongside soldiers from 42 Infantry Brigade.

“The exercise gave an insight as to our likely involvement in responding to a civil emergency, something the squadron can take forward to be well-prepared in the future.”

Paul Argyle, Manchester’s Deputy Fire Chief, who oversaw Triton II, said the scale of the destruction and chaos in the exercise was deliberately designed to test the region at full stretch.

“We have to do this to ensure we are well prepared to deal with any future real-life event or disaster that might occur – and it is also invaluable that those taking part got the chance to practise essential response skills that would be used during a major incident like this.”

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