Wildcat returns to the pride of the Fleet Air Arm

First deployed Wildcat Flight returned to base today after 9 months at sea embarked in HMS Lancaster.

As the Wildcat Flight 201 landed on at 825 Naval Air Squadron history was made, the first Wildcat helicopter ever to deploy. 

Commanding Officers alongside Squadron personnel, family and friends welcomed back the crew of 201 Flight having left Royal Naval Air Station (RNAS) Yeovilton back in March this year.

The Flight Commander Lieutenant Dave Neyland brought the Wildcat safely home after 9 months, with 200 hours flown and 99% service ability achieved. 

I’m going to give my Daddy big cuddles and kisses.

Charlie, aged four

His wife Lizzy was there to welcome him back, she said; “It’s been a long time since we’ve seen each other.

“It’s been a fantastic trip for them though and we’re all so excited to have them home in time for Christmas.”

Hannah Mullet wife welcomed back her husband, Chief Petty Officer (CPO) Rich Mullet 201 Flights Senior Maintenance Rating (SMR),  with their son.

Hannah said; “It’s great to have him back the last 3 months of the 9 have seemed endless and really dragged” Charlie, aged four added “I’m going to give my Daddy big cuddles and kisses.”

The first ship to deploy Wildcat has taken the aircraft across the Atlantic and Pacific oceans, building on the UK’s strong ties with its allies and continuing the UK’s commitment to the region.

HMS Lancaster as well as providing reassurance and security for British overseas territories has also undertaken a range of other tasks in support of British interests including providing defence engagement, maritime security and conducting training with foreign militaries.

This was a deployment of firsts.

The first Wildcat deployed, first outing for the new RN uniform, first time a Royal Marine Chef has deployed on a ship.

To continue the theme, this Wildcat Helicopter, was the first rotary landing at St Helens airport, one of the most remote islands in the world.

The Wildcat crew flew essential stores to remote areas around the island of Tristan Da Cunha helping islanders, engaged in passage exercises with the Mexicans, Chileans and Nigerians and represented the Royal Navy at the International New Orleans Louisiana (NOLA) Navy Week.

During their 9 months away they have visited 20 countries covering 31,000 nautical miles.

Commanding Officer of RNAS Yeovilton, Commodore Jon Pentreath OBE said; “This has been a hugely successful deployment.

“It is wonderful to see them reunited with their families especially at this time of year; however we must not forget those still deployed over Christmas and take a moment to remember them.”