Clyde catches the whirlybird during demanding aviation training in the Falklands

A Chinook begins to whip up the South Atlantic as it hovers over the flight deck of HMS Clyde – the first time, we believe, a wocca-wocca has trained with the patrol ship.

Clyde was put through eight days of assessment by the Royal Navy’s aviation experts – the culmination of an extensive period of appraisal to determine whether the ship and her three dozen crew are ready for all eventualities as they patrol the Falklands.

A crucial part of those patrols is the ability to work with air power in the islands, from the RAF to S-61s (the civilian version of the Sea King) used by Bristol International and the AW189 (a sort of stretched Lynx) used by the search and rescue service in the Falklands.

The latter two conducted a series of day and night deck landings and winched crew on and off the flight deck – Clyde is the only vessel in her class to be equipped with one; her sisters only have a winching area.

It was a fantastic opportunity for my flight deck ratings and I to work with such a iconic aircraft – an opportunity probably unique to this theatre of operations,

Lt Dewing

As a result, she’s equipped with specialist aviation equipment, carries crew specially-trained to operate helicopters, and a helicopter signals officer (Lt Will Dewing) to oversee all work with air power.

Having successfully completing training with her regular ‘customers’, Clyde teamed up with the RAF’s 1310 (Tactical Support) Flight and their CH47 Chinooks.

The veteran helicopters are too large and heavy to set down on Clyde’s flight deck, but that doesn’t stop them practising winching drills – the first time, apparently, they’ve done so with Clyde in the nine years she’s been based in the Falklands.

“It was a fantastic opportunity for my flight deck ratings and I to work with such a iconic aircraft – an opportunity probably unique to this theatre of operations,” said Lt Dewing.