Boulder display of skill by Royal Navy pilots in Africa

ROCK CHALLENGE HMS Edinburgh's Lynx helicopter lands on a large boulder while training in South Africa
ROCK CHALLENGE HMS Edinburgh's Lynx helicopter lands on a large boulder while training in South Africa
HMS Diamond leaving Portsmouth

Engine woes end HMS Diamond’s mission

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IT wasn’t the smoothest of landing pads – but that didn’t stop Royal Navy pilots taking a break on top of a boulder in South Africa.

The air crew serving on HMS Edinburgh enjoyed a stunning view of Table Mountain during a flight over Cape Town before touching down on the rock.

The Portsmouth-based Type 42 destroyer had called into the port of Simon’s Town for a routine maintenance period after spending two months in wintry conditions off the Falkland Islands.

During her time in maintenance, Edinburgh’s crew paid memorial respects, flew helicopter exercises and relaxed with visiting friends and family.

The ship’s Lynx helicopter and her crew visited the South African Air Force (SAAF) base Ysterplaat for a day flying with the SAAF Super Lynx, incorporating low-level flying, formation flying, mountain flying and confined area landings.

The heavy South Atlantic seas often limit flying opportunities during the passage west, so it was a valuable opportunity to fly near Cape Town.

Towards the end of the South Africa visit, Edinburgh’s commanding officer, Commander Paul Russell, and several members of the crew – including a six-man guard of honour – conducted a wreath-laying ceremony at the Commonwealth War Graves in Dido Valley cemetery.

It is the final resting place of many British servicemen and women who were stationed in Simon’s Town during the First and Second World Wars.

Cdr Russell said: ‘The South Atlantic is a harsh environment in which to operate.

‘Extreme low temperatures and significant sea states all take their toll on our equipment, so a period of engineering in a well founded port like Simon’s Town is key to ensuring that we are in good material state for the remainder of our deployment.’

As well as the memorials, the South African Navy hosted a sports day against Edinburgh’s rugby and football teams and a visiting German warship. Edinburgh put in solid performances but lost to the South Africans.

The warship has been deployed to the South Atlantic since May and is now sailing back to the Falklands before returning home to Portsmouth in December.