Eel be back – successful Anglo-Norwegian anti-submarine exercise becomes calendar fixture

Topic: Fighting armsFleet Air Arm Storyline: RNAS Culdrose

Royal Navy helicopters will repeat a new exercise with the Norwegians to protect vital underwater infrastructure and deal with submarine threats.

Green Eel is to become an annual fixture for crews who protect the nation’s flagship and nuclear deterrent from the ‘enemy below’ after their debut in the exercise in June proved highly successful.

Merlin helicopters from RNAS Culdrose in Cornwall were invited to pit their skills against Norwegian and German submarines in the fjords and inlets around Bergen on Norway’s west coast.

The 100 or so personnel from 814 and 824 Squadrons found the experience invaluable, exploiting both an environment and ‘adversaries’ different from those with which they train in home waters.

Following a strategic partnership with Norway to protect critical undersea infrastructure in the north Atlantic, it’s been confirmed Green Eel will be an annual event.
“Exercise Green Eel provided a successful opportunity this year for the Merlin helicopter force to refine its anti-submarine warfare tactics against live submarines. Critically it provided the final stages of tactical training for our newly qualified aviators,” said Captain Stuart Irwin, Commanding Officer of RNAS Culdrose.”
“Our anti-submarine warfare partnership with Norway is stronger than ever and Green Eel will now be an annual exercise.

“This is part of wider engagement between the UK and Norway and comes following the recent Statement of Intent between our governments to work together in our national defence.

“The UK’s anti-submarine warfare forces are essential to protect the integrity of our trade routes, energy supply, and undersea communications infrastructure.”
The Merlin Mk2s which operate from his air station in southwestern Cornwall provide submarine protection for HMS Queen Elizabeth and Prince of Wales (820 Naval Air Squadron), Flights for frigates/RFAs conducting anti-submarine operations chiefly in the North Atlantic (814 NAS) with 824 Squadron feeding both with trained air and ground crew.

In May, the UK and Norway agreed to develop a strategic partnership to counter shared undersea threats.


The growing use of the seabed for energy and communications has resulted in increased opportunities for adversaries to threaten Western critical national infrastructure and the UK and Norway have jointly increased security patrols in the region.

The partnership enhances the two nations’ ability to exercise and operate together, while simplifying the process for Allies and partners to join or complement UK and Norwegian activity.