815 Naval Air Squadron


229 Flight of 815 Naval Air Squadron

A Royal Navy Lynx helicopter with four personnel aboard crashed in the English Channel on the evening of 8 December 2004; wreckage was found on the seabed some 17 miles off Lizard Point. The four-aircrew came from 229 Flight of 815 Naval Air Squadron, home-based at Royal Naval Air Station Yeovilton in Somerset. The Lynx helicopter, flying off HMS Portland, was conducting a precautionary search of the sea off Lizard Point, following reports of a possible man-over-board in the area, when contact with it was lost at around 1910 Hrs.  The frigates HMS St Albans and HMS Montrose, and the German frigate Sachsen joined the search, and the aircraft carrier HMS Illustrious arrived in the area around midnight to act as a forward refuelling platform for the search and rescue helicopters. The helicopters briefly stood down to rest the crews at 0400, but resumed the aerial search at first light at 0730 Hrs on 9 December. The mine hunter HMS Pembroke assisted in locating the wreckage with its sonar.

815 Naval Air Squadron is the largest helicopter squadron in Europe and provides the Royal Navy’s Frigates and Destroyers, based in Portsmouth and Plymouth, with a fast, high-tech maritime attack Lynx helicopter. Flights from 815 Squadron are currently undertaking operations in the Persian Gulf, the Mediterranean, the Caribbean and UK Waters and recently played a major role in operations against Saddam Hussein’s regime, living up to their motto: Strike Deep.

Lieutenant Dave Cole

Lieutenant Dave Cole Royal Navy was an Observer and the Commander of 229 Flight. Aged 34, he lived in Dorset. He joined the Royal Navy in 1996 and joined 229 Flight in July of this year having recently converted to be a Lynx Observer; most of his aviation career had previously been spent on Sea King helicopters. He was extremely popular in the ship, known as "a down-to-earth Officer with the human touch", respected as the Flight Commander by all colleagues. He had married just last summer.

Lieutenant Rob Dunn

Lieutenant Rob Dunn, Royal Navy, Aged 29, was a Pilot and also lived in Dorset. Known as a man who was never afraid to get stuck in, Rob Dunn had an excellent rapport with all onboard his ship, but particularly with those who worked for him. He joined the Royal Navy in 1998, quickly developing a reputation as a very capable Lynx pilot. He leaves a fiancée; they were to have been married next year.

Lieutenant Jamie Mitchell

Lieutenant Jamie Mitchell, Royal Navy an Observer, had just completed his flying training at the age of 26. Son of Wilma and late father James, and beloved partner of Julia, Jamie was a proud Scot, originally from Dundee. He joined the flight as the second Observer and had already impressed those around him with his outstanding capacity to learn. Known in the Royal Navy as a “whole-ship character”, he was also popular onboard as the ship’s weather forecaster.

Leading Air Engineering Mechanic Richard Darnell

Leading Air Engineering Mechanic Richard Darnell, the Flight Engineer and Winchman, was the longest-serving member of 229 Flight, having joined it in November 2001. He had already deployed twice on operations with HMS Portland. An outstanding winchman, he played a key role in several boarding operations in the Arabian Gulf. Aged 31, he joined the Royal Navy in 1990 and soon developed a reputation as a larger-than-life character, known throughout the ship and the Lynx helicopter community for his outrageous sense of fun. To quote many of his friends, "he lived life to the max". Richard leaves a fiancée who is a fellow service woman.