A team of sailors from RNAS Culdrose are on their way home from six months at sea, in time for Christmas with their families.
The aircrew of engineers of 829 squadron onboard HMS Sutherland have been in the Indian Ocean and the Gulf helping in the fight against piracy and trafficking of drugs.
The team from Culdrose, headed by Lieutenant Earl Kingston, has been heavily involved with patrolling thousands of miles of ocean in temperatures reaching over 40 degrees C, ensuring vessels can safely make their way through some of the busiest shipping lanes in the world.
The engineers have had a particularly challenging time, having to maintain the aircraft in a hangar in high temperatures and 90 per cent humidity.
Not only do these conditions make it difficult to work on a very hot aircraft, but they have a detrimental effect on many of the helicopter’s sensors and presented the team with challenges not normally experienced at the helicopters’ Helston home.
The crew have carried out many trips to ports, ranging from Dubai in UAE to Tanzania in Africa, where they hosted visits by foreign dignitaries, local schools and host nation forces.
They have helped restore an orphanage, visited the lost city of Petra, been invited to watch the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix and played various football matches with local teams. They also had a visit from King Neptune as the ship crossed the equator on her passage down to Tanzania.
The Merlin flight onboard HMS Sutherland is now making her way home through the Mediterranean, where her ship’s company will have the chance to relax for a few days in Malta before arriving home just before Christmas.
They were relieved by another Culdrose-based “flight” onboard HMS Northumberland, who will now perform operations in the Gulf for the next six months.