Royal Navy Commissions New Merlin Active Dipping Sonar Compass Alignment Facility at RNAS Culdrose

A new Merlin Avionics Workshops (MAWS) Submersible Unit (SU) Compass Alignment Facility (CAF) has recently been commissioned at Royal Navy Air Station Culdrose, which is used to service part of the Merlin Active Dipping Sonar (ADS) system that was replicated for full working use in October 2009.

At the start of the Integrated Merlin Operational Support (IMOS) contract, the Lockheed Martin UK’s Integrated Logistics Support (ILS) Lead for ADS highlighted the requirement for the CAF and initiated the work on selecting a location and acquiring a non-magnetic building.

In a short ceremony on February 15, this facility was realised when the MAWS SU CAF was opened by Engineering Commander, David Bartlett, Royal Navy Air Station Culdrose and Bill Widner, Vice President and Group Managing Director of Lockheed Martin UK - Integrated Systems.

The concrete base and pathway for the CAF were provided by the Merlin Project Team and completed just before Christmas 2009. The CAF building was procured by Lockheed Martin UK utilising a local Cornish firm, Truro Portable Buildings, to meet the strict non-magnetic requirements. The building was erected on the base at the end of January 2010, to complete the facility.

The CAF is used in conjunction with two new SU Test Benches, recently procured by Lockheed Martin to accurately align the compass within the SU to ensure accurate bearings are provided when locating and tracking submarines. The ability to perform SU compass alignment was only previously available at the Thales factory in Brest, France.

2009 marked the tenth anniversary of Merlin’s defined In-Service Date, which was achieved in March 1999, with delivery of the twelfth aircraft. In December 2002, a major milestone was achieved with delivery of the 44th and final helicopter, which was both on schedule and to budget. Merlin was on hand throughout 2009 to participate in the RN’s Fly Navy 100 Fleet Air Arm anniversary celebrations.

A dedication ceremony was held on March 23 for Mr Joe White, the Lockheed Martin ILS lead, who was instrumental in identifying and planning the SU CAF requirement. Joe sadly passed away in 2007, after a struggle against cancer; a remembrance plaque was unveiled by his wife Lynda, in honour of his life and achievements.

Mr Richard Lansdell, of Lockheed Martin was on hand to lead the dedication ceremony and to welcome colleagues, including Lynda. He and Joe had served in the Fleet Air Arm together and he paid tribute to Joe’s tenacity in pursuing the various early problems surrounding the development of the Compass Alignment Facility. Through Joe’s efforts and good relationship with Thales the Royal Navy will benefit from the excellence of the equipment destined for service in the Merlin Anti-Surface and Anti-Submarine helicopters.