Two Merlin Mark 2 helicopters and 48 personnel from 820 Naval Air Squadron have flown on board HMS Ocean to join Exercise Cougar 14.
The first of the ship’s air crews to arrive, 820 NAS will now join their shipmates for the annual workout of the Royal Navy’s Response Force task group (RFTG).
This is made up of Fleet Flagship HMS Bulwark, HMS Ocean, the Lead Commando Group from 3 Commando Brigade Royal Marines (40 Commando), elements of Naval Air Squadrons, and Lyme Bay and Wave Knight from the Royal Fleet Auxiliary.
Embarking the air crew will give HMS Ocean the chance to work up her aviation capabilities following successful trials earlier this summer, and 820 NAS are looking forward to the challenge ahead.
Commanding Officer of 820 NAS, Commander Ross Spooner, said: “It’s great to be back flying from HMS Ocean because she plays such a fundamental part in the Royal Navy’s high readiness task group.
“Working with the Cougar 14 Task Group not only maintains the Squadron’s maritime aviation skills; it is a tremendous opportunity to develop and prove the Merlin Mk2’s extensive warfighting capabilities.
“The Task Group really demonstrates the Royal Navy’s inherent versatility.”
The RFTG regularly practices its world class maritime skills, and is designed to be deployed in emergency situations, thousands of miles from home.
The last time the RFTG was deployed HMS Illustrious was activated to sail to the Philippines to carry much needed aid for islands devastated by Typhoon Haiyan in October 2013.
This is the fourth deployment for the Task Group which will demonstrate its ability to operate a highly effective maritime force anywhere in the world to protect UK interests.
The Task Group is able to conduct simultaneously a range of operations from deterring adversaries and maritime security to international engagement and supporting regional stability.