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Royal Navy pilots conduct daring landings on HMS St Albans

23 November 2018
Royal Navy aviators have been conducting some of the trickiest deck landings around on the back of HMS St Albans. 

The Portsmouth-based Type 23 frigate – the Royal Navy’s highest readiness warship – has been sharpening up her specialist skills by guiding in a range of Naval Service helicopters on to her flight deck. 

While on duty protecting the integrity of UK waters, helicopters from 814, 815 and 846 Naval Air Squadron have visited St Albans – providing a challenge for both ship’s company and pilots. 

Considering the unpredictable conditions at sea and the size of both helicopters – especially the large Merlins – and the ship’s deck, this is one of the toughest landings to conduct, according to St Albans’ Flight Commander, Lieutenant Commander Andrew Mitchell.   

Commander John Cromie is the Commanding Officer of St Albans. 

He said: “It’s vitally important that we practice these skillsets to maintain our edge. 

“The teams from the ship’s company and the various Naval Air Squadrons have worked hard to achieve safe and meaningful aviation training over the past few days. 

“These are perishable skills that need to be practiced often but in the right conditions.”

In the darkness, Wildcat and Merlin Mk3 helicopters fired up their night vision goggle capability and were carefully guided onto the back of the frigate.

It’s vitally important that we practice these skillsets to maintain our edge. 

Commander John Cromie 

That was after a Merlin Mk2 was brought in on a conventional night approach. All of this was a culmination of long hours of work from the ship’s company to ensure the smooth running of the landing exercises. 

Around 20 aircrew from three different aircraft visited the Type 23 in a three-day period as St Albans conducted essential training while on national tasking duties. 

It is St Albans’ responsibility to keep a watchful eye on UK waters and has also been focused on escorting a Russian warship through the English Channel. 

She was recently activated to keep a watchful eye on Slava-class cruiser Marshall Ustinov as she passed through UK waters.

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