In 2012, the RAF’s Merlin HC3/3A fleet began to be transferred to the Royal Navy for use by the Commando Helicopter Force. Command of the UK Merlin HC3/3A fleet was formally transferred from the RAF to the Royal Navy during a ceremony at RAF Benson on 30 September 2014.
Three green Merlin Mk3s from the Operational Conversion Flight of RAF 28 Squadron rocked up at Rollestone Camp to see how they handle operating in the field, rather than their normal base at RAF Benson, near Oxford. The Commando Helicopter Force is upgrading from the Sea King Mk4 to the Merlin Mk3.
Armed with up to three machine-guns and able to carry around 20 commandos in full kit – or a six-tonne load slung beneath the fuselage, such as a Land Rover, BV tracked vehicles, 105mm gun or stores – the Merlin has effectively got twice the capacity of the Sea King it replaces.
Top: Commando Helicopter Force trainees practise their ‘Arctic huddle’ in the downdraft of a Sea King helicopter; 2nd row left: Petty Officer Engineering Technician Brian Lilley rests in the shade after a gruelling session with the Royal Marines Trainers; middle: Chefs, stewards and logistic personnel practise aircraft embarkation drills; right: Logistician Michelle King makes ready for the next training serial; bottom left: ‘Camming Up’ for the next exercise and right: Setting up for an ambush during the military field craft and infantry skills training serials [Pictures: Petty Officer (Photographer) Mez Merrill, Crown copyright]
Royal Naval personnel from the Commando Helicopter Force (CHF) based at the Royal Naval Air Station Yeovilton have completed their mandatory military awareness training course.
The 5-week long course is designed to equip naval personnel with the essential military field craft and infantry skills required to serve alongside ground troops on the front line.
The course includes basic field craft techniques, plus theoretical and practical training in battlefield first aid, survival techniques alongside developing personal fitness and expanding students’ knowledge of the CHF.
The fourth week consists of a tactical field exercise to combine all the skills learnt previously and the fifth week sees the introduction of Sea King helicopters for personnel to practise becoming Junglies.
Failing the course means re-training or being withdrawn from the CHF cadre.
HMS Ocean and MV Eddystone during Joint Expeditionary Force by Royal Navy Media Archive Via Flickr: HMS Ocean and MV Eddystone during Joint Expeditionary Force. Picture: PO Phot Si Ethell
The JEF(M) Task Group came together for a PHOTEX, with HMS Bulwark, HMS Ocean, RFA Mounts Bay and MV Eddystone all in formation. CHF Phot, PO Si Ethell, conducted the PHOTEX from a Merlin.
HMS Bulwark is currently deployed under Commander Amphibious Task Group who is leading the Royal Navy’s inaugural Joint Expeditionary Force (Maritime) Group deployment.
This yearâs major task group deployment, to the Mediterranean and Middle East, will demonstrate the Royal Navyâs enduring ability to deploy highly effective and combat-capable maritime forces anywhere in the world. The Task Group will provide a powerful forward-deployed military capability, giving HM Government a range of options to allow the UK to respond rapidly in the event of an overseas crisis. The deployment demonstrates the Royal Navyâs contribution to the security and prosperity of the UK and a commitment to regional allies. During the deployment, exercises in the Adriatic and Arabian Seas, and The Gulf, will enhance the groupâs readiness for contingent operations and provide opportunities to further relationships with NATO allies and other partner nations.