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Commando helicopter squadron returns home from Far East mission

Commando helicopter squadron returns from Far East mission
24 July 2017
Two Merlin helicopters from 845 Naval Air Squadron (NAS) have returned after five months at sea covering 27,000 miles and visiting 13 countries in the French Navy assault ship FS Mistral.

During those five months 845 NAS trained with US, French and Japanese forces, crossed the Mediterranean Sea, Red Sea, Indian Ocean, South China Sea and the Pacific, and visited ports that included Mumbai, Ho Chi Minh City, Darwin and Colombo, as part of Jeanne d’Arc 17, a multinational training mission.

Landing back at Royal Naval Air Station Yeovilton in Somerset, the squadron personnel were met by their families and the new Commanding Officer (CO), Commander Robert Bond.

However it was outgoing CO, Commander Matt Punch MBE, who embarked with the squadron in FS Mistral and he said, “It’s great to have ‘A’ Flight home after such a historic and successful deployment on board the FS Mistral.

“I’m particularly proud of how well 845 NAS personnel integrated with our international allies. Our contribution has reinforced the reputation of the Royal Navy and the Fleet Air Arm as a capable and global fighting force.’

I’m particularly proud of how well 845 NAS personnel integrated with our international allies

Commander Matt Punch MBE, Commanding Officer of 845 Naval Air Squadron

The deployment was the first time the Merlin Mk3a helicopter had operated at sea and the squadron engineers had to maintain the aircraft in tough weather conditions.

Lieutenant Commander Joe Stevens, 845’s Air Engineer Officer, remarked that, “The engineers have, as always, worked hard in testing weather and produced outstanding results. This was no mean feat, especially as for many of the younger men and women this was their first time working at sea. ”

Tucker Palmer (6) waited excitedly for his Dad exclaimed, “he’s flying the Merlin home you know!”

The Stubbs Family eagerly awaited the return of Warrant Officer (WO1) Richard ‘Seth’ Stubbs’, the Senior Maintenance Rating (SMR) deployed with squadron. Willow (10) said, “I can’t wait to have Dad home so he can walk Teddy (the dog) as I’ve had to do it! Oh and we are also going on holiday so that is really exciting.”

The returning personnel now head off for some well-deserved leave, before returning to prepare for future embarkations in the Royal Navy’s new aircraft carriers, HMS Queen Elizabeth and HMS Prince of Wales.

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