The UK Royal Navy’s naval base HMNB Devonport has officially opened a new multi-million-pound Helicopter Operating Facility.

The new facility in Plymouth welcomed a Dauphin helicopter, from the Newquay-based Fleet Helicopter Support Unit, which touched down at the area marking the pad’s first landing.

The landing also represents the return of helicopter operations after a gap of ten years.

The facility has been built by Morgan Sindall Construction under a £3m contract awarded by the Defence Infrastructure Organisation (DIO) last year.

The new helipad will serve as a hub for essential sea training exercises and as a centre for daily operation of the base.

The UK Navy noted that the pad is primarily used by Fleet Operational Sea Training (FOST) staff.

UK Navy air traffic officer lieutenant commander Simon Smith said: “The purpose is to transfer FOST personnel from shore to sea to carry out operational training of ships.

“For the past ten years that has been happening from HMS Raleigh, which is a good hour’s transit away.

“This will now be a ten-minute drive in the base and then straight out to sea, making for a much more efficient process.”

Furthermore, the new Helicopter Operating Facility features a meteorological observation station. It also supports refuelling visiting helicopters.

The new helipad can host Merlin and Wildcat Helicopters, according to Royal Navy.

In October last year, UK Ministry of Defence chose HM Naval Base (HMNB) Clyde in Scotland for the first future accommodation model pilot project to accommodate service personnel.