Sweden finds shipboard helicopters an invaluable resource
The Swedish Navy's Third Naval Warfare Flotilla is operating helicopters from ships to meet special demands on security.
While the helicopter is an invaluable resource to the navy, operations aren't easy, the landing site can move several feet up and down and the winds can make it difficult to keep the helicopter stable.
During the past year, major steps have been taken to start using helicopters from ships. Several hundred take-offs and landings have been made in different weather conditions from Swedish Navy vessels. It's an important skill for the Swedish Navy as it prepares to operate in the pirate-ridden waters off Somalia with the ship HMS Carlskrona. At the time of writing, two AgustaWestland AW109s, locally designated HKp 15 has joined the ship in the Gulf of Aden.
'In a short time we have made 89 landings, and as many take-offs with the Hkp15 helicopters from the ship,' said Jorgen Sjövik, master of the HMS Visby.
Swedish Navy ships have been working with helicopters for many years, not least in the hunt for submarines in 1980s and 1990's, but these helicopters were usually based onshore.
Common tasks for a modern helicopter on a ship may be medical transport as well as to scout, identify and report piracy.
'Whatever we do at sea, the result is better with the helicopter. The Maritime operational helicopter is an integral part of a modern marine toolbox,' said the head of third naval flotilla, Anders Olovsson.
The Swedish Navy has had a long cooperation with the Danish Navy. Danish helicopters have landed on the Visby Corvette and Swedish officers have served in the Danish ships. One of them is Magnus Andersson. Normally an anti-submarine warfare officer on the corvette HMS Stockholm. He has trained nearly two months to become a HCO, Helicopter Control Officer. Training has been done on a simulator and this training has been tested under real conditions on the Danish navy ships HDMS Triton and HDMS Hvidbjörnen and in the waters around Greenland and Iceland.
The programme provides the knowledge required to operate helicopters with ships at sea in poor weather or a potential emergency situation, and be able to lead the helicopter to take-off and land.
On April 14, HMS Carlskrona will join the international anti-piracy operation, Atalanta with a helicopter unit. Looking ahead, the transition from exercise to operations is an important step in the development of the Swedish maritime operational helicopter capability.
The Swedish Navy hopes that all the hours spent on preparation will help secure sea routes around the Horn of Africa and help food supplies reach the affected populations in Somalia.
Source: Swedish Armed Forces - Translated from a Swedish Press Release.
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