Small Ship’s Flight comes to British carrier HMS Ark Royal

Small Ship’s Flight comes to British carrier HMS Ark Royal 3 Jun, 10, Source: Royal Navy

212 Flight from 815 Naval Air Squadron, based at RNAS Yeovilton, is normally associated with the Ice Patrol Ship HMS Endurance, but for the last two months the crew and two Mark 3 Lynx Maritime Attack helicopters have been embarked in HMS Ark Royal, conducting the Helicopter Delivery Service (HDS) in addition to planned attack exercises.  By shear coincidence, the Flight bears the same number as Ark Royal’s British Forces Postal Address: BFPO 212.

Usually reserved for frigates and destroyers, HMS Ark Royal is the first aircraft carrier to have its own Lynx flight.  With its nose cone emblazoned with “HMS Ark Royal”, 212 flight’s aircrew are maintaining both aircraft to an exceptionally high standard providing unswerving support to HMS Ark Royal’s Captain and enabling the Commander of the Carrier Strike Group, Commodore Simon Ancona to visit all in his Task Group, provided much needed face-to-face engagement.

Delighted to be embarked in the Fleet Flagship, 212 Flight’s pilot, Lt Paul “Ellers” Ellerton, said: “The team in HMS Ark Royal have been absolutely fantastic.  We are all really pleased to be operating from the Flagship’s deck.  With the United States Marine Corps Harriers, Seaking and Merlin helicopters from 857 NAS and 814 NAS, in addition to the variety of visiting American aircraft, the Lynx is punching well above her weight and is key to the success and intent of the exercise: to prove sustainability and interoperability.”

Flying over 50 hours in May alone, 212 Flight has operated in support of Exercise Auriga – a bilateral exercise conducted with the United States Marine Corps AV8B Harriers of Marine Air Group 14, the UK’s Joint Force Harrier and HM Ships Sutherland and Liverpool supported by RFA Fort George.

Whilst the future of the Ice Patrol Ship is decided, the numerous sorties flown from HMS Ark Royal are helping to keep the Flight current and fully operational before their next planned Ice Patrol Tour.  Lt Martin Ormshaw, the Flight Observer remarked: “AURIGA has been a chance for 212 Flight to operate from an aircraft carrier, something we in the Lynx world don’t often have the chance to do, it gives Ark Royal a useful HDS and Force Protection asset, and for us it keeps 212 Flight integrated and up to speed”.

212 Flight are due to Finish their Auriga deployment in August, whereupon they will relocate to HMS Ocean for further training.

AURIGA is the major Royal Navy deployment of 2010, exercising on the Eastern Seaboard of North America and in the Western Atlantic.  Deploying from the UK in April of 2010, the Carrier Strike Lead Task Group will initially consist of approximately 2,000 UK, US and French personnel in 4 Royal Navy and Royal Fleet Auxiliary ships, a French nuclear powered submarine, an American Destroyer and several rotary and fixed wing aircraft.  Later on in the deployment the Amphibious Task Group consisting of approximately 2,000 personnel and 3 ships will join for the final exercise.

The deployment will focus on a series of US and Canadian exercises with the principal aim of enhancing our Operational Capability by training with our coalition partners in traditional warfighting areas of Carrier Strike, Amphibious Assault and Anti-Submarine Warfare operations.  Elements of the Task Group will also participate in the International Fleet Review taking place in Halifax to celebrate the Centennial of the Canadian Navy.

The Task Group is Commanded from HMS ARK ROYAL by Commodore Simon Ancona Royal Navy, Commander UK Carrier Strike Group.

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