A very loud whoosh was heard inside the Lynx before we saw the missile appearing in front of the helicopter flying very fast into the distance

Lieutenant Laura Cambrook, Lynx Flight Commander

After a 35-minute search, the area was declared clear and the aircraft cleared to fire. After ensuring all checks were complete and a final check of the firing bearing the crew selected a missile and Flight Commander Lieutenant Laura Cambrook pressed the red fire button.

There followed an initial silence as the system conducted its initial checks after the button was pressed, before the missile was felt to drop.

There was another seemingly interminable silence before the missile rocket motors fired up and the first Sea Skua was away.

"A very loud whoosh was heard inside the Lynx before we saw the missile appearing in front of the helicopter flying very fast into the distance," said Lieutenant Cambrook who fired two of the three missiles, with her pilot, Lieutenant 'Jack' Leonard launching a third.

And not one hit home - deliberately. The missiles were set to skim over the top of their target - allowing Portland's gunners the chance to hone their skills and finish off the huge red inflatable.

Sea Skua has been in service since the Falklands in 1982, when it was rushed into action and was used to knock out several Argentine vessels.

It really made its mark in 1991 - not least because the US Navy had nothing similar, so Sea Skua-armed Lynx were sent in to catch Iraqi ships as they tried to break out off Babiyan Island. Most were shot up in what the Americans dubbed a 'turkey shoot'.

With Lynx retiring from service at the end of March - there's a final fly-past by the remaining helicopters over southern England on Friday 17 March, weather permitting - Sea Skua is also ending its service as its not compatible with the Lynx's successor, Wildcat.

The latter will receive two new replacements for Sea Skua: the heavy anti-ship missile Sea Venom, and the smaller Martlett to be used against RIBs and small boats.

HMNB Devonport

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Engineering Technician (Weapon Engineering)

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