A Royal Navy Lynx helicopter and crew have returned from deployment with a French frigate on counter-piracy operations in the Indian Ocean. During the deployment they helped capture 12 suspected pirates following an attack on a merchant ship
217 Flight of 815 Naval Air Squadron arrived back at Royal Naval Air Station Yeovilton following their 4-month deployment on the French Navy frigate Surcouf.
Surcouf was dispatched to support the European Union’s Operation Atalanta, a double mission to both eradicate the scourge of piracy and to safeguard shipping delivering aid to Somalia, the UK Ministry of Defence said.
The deployment of the 12-strong team from 217 Flight on Surcouf, headed by Flight Commander Lieutenant Mike Curd, was the result of a treaty signed between the UK and France in 2010 pledging greater military co-operation and interoperability between the two countries.
“The experience has been really good; challenges have been more on the human side than operational. One of the biggest challenges was the language as none of us were expert French speakers, but it worked. There was some excellent team work during this deployment,” said Lieutenant Curd.
On January 5, following a suspected pirate attack on the merchant vessel Jasmine off the coast of Somalia, the Lynx was used to first locate two suspect boats and afterwards provided air cover for the Surcouf’s boarding team as they apprehended 12 men.
“We stopped the suspected pirates without having to fire a shot; although the two vessels split up over night we located and intercepted the first and went back for the second,” Lieutenant Curd explained.