Royal Navy aircrews are being put through their paces with search and rescue exercises in Falmouth Bay this summer.

Dramatic footage shows the view from one of the Flying Tigers’ powerful Merlin helicopters, based at RNAS Culdrose, Helston.

The crew were deployed to pick up trainee aircrew members, who are also learning what to do if they suddenly find themselves all at sea.

This year also marks the 40th anniversary of the huge rescue of Fastnet Race yacht crews.

While 19 people lost their lives in the disaster, 75 were safely rescued by Royal Navy helicopters from RNAS Culdrose. The rescue on August 14, 15 and 16 of 1979 was a massive operation – the largest ever in the UK in peacetime – involving British and Irish RNLI lifeboats, warships and many aircraft.

And while many people think, since the Royal Navy passed responsibility for civilian search and rescue to the coastguard agency, that it no longer has the ability to perform such life-and-death tasks - the reality is they are as vital as ever.

The main job of Culdrose’s grey Merlin helicopters is to protect the fleet, by detecting and killing enemy submarines. However, flying at sea in all weathers is also dangerous and all Culdrose aircrews train on how to respond to an emergency.

Helicopters from 820 Naval Air Squadron will embark once again later this year on the new carrier HMS Queen Elizabeth, as well as the next new carrier HMS Prince of Wales.

When these warships have their complement of F35 Lightning jets, 820 NAS will be on 24-hour search and rescue cover in case of a downed aircraft.

The same applies to 814 NAS – The Flying Tigers – who perform a similar role aboard the navy’s frigates.