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Last Updated: Thursday, 21 October, 2004, 13:46 GMT 14:46 UK
Last Merlin squadron commissioned
The squadron will be equipped with eight Merlin helicopters
The last of the Royal Navy's Merlin helicopter squadrons has been commissioned at RNAS Culdrose.

The Cornish base held a ceremony for 829 Naval Air Squadron on Thursday.

It will include 130 personnel and six Merlins to work on board Type 23 frigates, a further two will stay at the base for training and engineering.

It is the fifth and last of the planned front line Merlin squadrons and marks a return of the squadron to Culdrose after it was decommissioned in 1993.

Three of the frigate-based helicopters have already been crewed and have been assigned to HMS Lancaster, HMS Monmouth and HMS Westminster.

It has operated in the Baltic Sea, the Falkland Islands and the tropics of West Africa.

Our mission is to generate Merlin flights to operate seamlessly with their parent ships across the globe
Lt Cdr Peter Munro-Lott

Later this year the Merlin HM Mk 1 on HMS Monmouth will become the first assigned to NATO when it joins the standing force in the Mediterranean.

HM Ships Northumberland, Richmond and Somerset flights will join the squadron during 2005 and 2006.

Squadron commanding officer, Lt Cdr Peter Munro-Lott, said: "829 Squadron has a long and proud history and once again it is the centre of excellence for small ship embarked aviation.

"The Merlin helicopter has already proved that it is a very capable aircraft, which can operate successfully from the decks of small and large ships.

"Our mission is to build on that success and generate Merlin flights to operate seamlessly with their parent ships across the globe as part of the Royal Navy's versatile maritime force."

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