November 25, 2020 (Google Translation) – Starting this week, the Royal Netherlands Air Force will practice for the first time with 3 NH90s simultaneously on board an amphibious transport ship of the Royal Netherlands Navy. HNLMS Johan de Witt and the maritime combat helicopters participate in the Fleet Operational Sea Training, in which they practice various aspects of warfare. The exercise takes place off the British south coast.
In the training, called FOST for short, tracing submarines and fighting against surface targets are on the program. The practice takes place in the waters south of the British port city of Plymouth. Normally the NH90s of 860 Squadron for FOST operate from the British Naval Air Station Culdrose. However, that has been closed due to Covid-19 measures. That is why Johan de Witt 3 weeks a sailing airport off the coast of Southern England.
After the ship had already departed earlier, the helicopter came on board on Monday from their home base Maritime Airbase De Kooy in Den Helder. Yesterday was the 1st practice day. “It is unique to us that we now have all logistical 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 actual deployment and therefore very valuable for the students. ”
Air force and navy 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. ”