Our main role is to hunt for the six NATO submarines during our time here, working alongside other aircraft to find them

Lieutenant Commander Richard 'Whisky' Walker, detachment commander

Joining colleagues, who have set up a temporary home at Stazione Elicotterri Catania (an Italian Naval Air Station which also flies maritime Merlins), the crews from 814 and 829 Naval Air Squadrons flew almost 1,400 miles across Europe - a three day journey which has made them hungry for the hunt!

Detachment Commander, Lieutenant Commander Richard 'Whisky' Walker, is looking forward to the mission.

As the aircraft arrived he said, "After a long transit from RNAS Culdrose, our Merlin helicopters have arrived in Catalina and are ready to take part in Exercise Dynamic Manta 2018. Our main role is to hunt for the six NATO submarines during our time here, working alongside other aircraft to find them."

"Whilst we are here in Sicily, it will be an intensive flying programme for us. Our submarine hunt will start immediately. Engineers are now busy in the hangar fitting all of the role equipment that enables us to hunt for submarines, including dipping sonar, an infra-red camera and various other kit. Then we will hand over to further crews to continue to mission."

During the exercise, the Royal Navy aviators will both protect and attack the NATO submarines, and work with the helicopters, maritime patrol aircraft and ships of ten other nations. They will all operate in the shadow of Mount Etna, which erupted during the 2017 exercise.

"It is important for aircrews from various NATO nations' to come and train together in this truly challenging environment," explained Greece's Commodore Andreas Vettos, who is overseeing the aerial element of the exercise.

"I'm convinced that the benefit for all participating nations will be immense and will assist in preparing our aircrews for future tasks and operations."

RNAS Culdrose

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