Three Dutch NH90s operate off the coast southern UK

From 23 November 2020 onwards, the Koninklijke Luchtmacht (KLu, Royal Netherlands Air Force) will practice for the first time with three NH90s at the same time on board an amphibious transport ship of the Royal Netherlands Navy (RNN). The HNLMS Johan de Witt (L-801) and the maritime combat helicopters participate in a so-called Fleet Operational Sea Training (FOST), in which they practice various aspects of warfare. The exercise takes place off the British south coast.

During the FOST programme the NH90 crew is tracing submarines and fighting against surface targets. The practice takes place in the waters south of the British port city of Plymouth. In the past, the Dutch NH90s of 860 squadron, normaly based at maritime air base De Kooy (the Netherlands) operate from the British Naval Air Station Culdrose.  However, that has base been closed for foreign operations due to COVID-19 measures. That is why Johan de Witt is ordered to sail for three weeks  off the coast of southern England.

After the L-801 had departed its homeport Den Helder (the Netherlands) on 23 November, the trio NH90s came on board. On 24 November 2020, the first practice day was reported. “It is unique for the KLu and the Johan de Witt that we now have all logistic support under one roof”, says detachment commander Lieutenant Commander of 1st class Friso Feenstra. “Everything is on board. That makes the training just as realistic as an actual deployment and therefore very valuable for the students.” The serials of the NH90s are N-088, N-195 and N-228.

The KLu and RNN train helicopter crews for maritime warfare during FOST. Together they gain experience for future deployment and operating from a ship. “Our goal is to provide the best possible support for the helicopter training courses and to gain experience with the NH90,” says Commander Captain Walter Hansen. “We are now experiencing the challenges that this entails for us as a ship. For example, how do we set up the hangar and how do we communicate with each other. ”

NLD NH90 320

Photo: Dutch MoD

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