by Emma Relton
Commander Ben Franklin has recently taken Command of the Merlin Helicopter Force based at RNAS CULDROSE, Cornwall.
Ben’s an experienced aviator who’s notched up more than 3,000 flying hours. And he was one of the inaugural Merlin Mk1 aircrew way back in the day.
The rest of Ben’s military CV includes service in all three of the Royal Navy’s “Invincible” Class Aircraft Carriers, Second in Command of the first Merlin equipped front-line unit 814 Naval Air Squadron, and Command of 829 Squadron.
829 Squadron is the parent unit for all of the Merlin helicopters that deploy onboard Frigates and Destroyers.
Commander Franklin said: “I’m Fleet Air Arm through and through and am extremely proud to have been selected to Command the Royal Navy’s Merlin Mk1 Helicopter Force.
It is a privilege to now be in charge of a Force that delivers integrated maritime aviation world-wide.“
Ben’s settled in Cornwall where his two children by wife Heather go to Penryn College.
Did you know?
One of Europe’s largest helicopter bases, RNAS Culdrose delivers highly capable Helicopter Squadrons specialising in Anti-Submarine Warfare, Anti-Surface Warfare and Airborne Surveillance and Control.
Its frontline Squadrons are deployed to ships all over the world to support the Royal Navy in its global operations.
Back at the Air Station, trainee Aircrew, Engineers, Air Traffic Controllers, Fire-fighters and Flight Deck crews undergo intensive training prior to joining Naval Air Squadrons for duties at sea.
Additionally, the ‘Search and Rescue’ Squadron is on constant standby 365-days a year to react to emergencies throughout the Southwest region.
Its red and grey helicopters can be seen braving all types of weather responding to calls for help on land and sea.