For the first time a Royal Navy helicopter squadron will take part in NATO’s largest Mediterranean anti-submarine exercise, Exercise Proud Manta.
Merlin Mk1 maritime patrol helicopters from 814 Naval Air Squadron (also known as ‘The Flying Tigers’) will fly 1400 miles across Europe from Royal Naval Air Station (RNAS) Culdrose in Helston, Cornwall, to Sicily in order to take part in the exercise and practice hunting submarines.
Personnel including aircrew and engineers and their Merlin helicopter, will hosted by the US Navy at Naval Air Station Sigonella in eastern Sicily for the duration of the exercise. Proud Manta 2011 will involve ships, aircraft and submarines from USA, Canada, Spain, France, Germany, Italy, Greece and Turkey and will provide a realistic, challenging training environment to all participants in order to improve the readiness, proficiency and tactical skills of all the participating units. It will give the Merlin crews an excellent opportunity to practice their primary role of Anti-Submarine Warfare as they operate against a wide variety of exercise ‘adversaries’ not normally encountered in British waters.
The Commanding Officer of 814 NAS, Commander Darran Goldsmith said “Proud Manta will provide the opportunity for 814 to hone its Anti-Submarine Warfare skills whilst working closely with other NATO maritime air, surface and sub-surface Forces. Additionally, for the aircrew new to the front line the transit to and from Sicily will offer excellent navigation training and experience. Interaction with our Italian Merlin counterparts in terms of engineering practices and flying procedures is a most welcome bonus in an exercise which promises much in a concentrated period of focussed tactical activity. Can’t wait!”