Merlin aircrew from RNAS Culdrose got more than they bargained for while out on a training exercise in Cornwall last week. 

Trainee aircrew with the 824 Naval Air Squadron were practising search and rescue exercises in Mount’s Bay when the emergency radio channel informed them that a jet skier had fallen into the water off the coast.

Realising they were nearby, the Merlin helicopter crew offered its help to the Falmouth Coastguards and immediately flew to the area, two miles south of St Michael’s Mount.

Within minutes, they had located a disabled jet-ski with one person still on board, but the driver – who was wearing a pull-cord was missing.

The crew began an expanding square search pattern using their onboard camera and naked-eye observation. It wasn’t long before the missing person was located 500 yards away, and by this time the Penlee Inshore Lifeboat was six minutes from the scene.

The helicopter crew radioed in the position, and standing off, watched as the lifeboat crew recovered the people – who were both unharmed.

Commander Chris Jones, the squadron’s commanding officer, said: “While the coastguard and lifeboat teams were quick to react, the assistance offered by the Merlin crew expedited the search operation, which in turn, helped speed up recovery.

“The crew responded in a measured, efficient, and ultimately successful fashion.”

At the start of May, RNAS Culdrose responded to concerns raised by members of the public about Merlin helicopters flying over Helston during the evening and nights.

In a post shared on its Facebook page, RNAS Culdrose explained why they have to fly during these hours and the importance of being prepared in any condition, including darkness.

As well as this the purpose of the Merlin helicopters is more than just hunting submarines. They also deal with airborne surveillance and control crews, cargo transfers, medical evacuations, search and rescue, and other maritime patrol duties.

You can read the full article here: RNAS Culdrose respond to residents concerns about night flying