Sons of Damien                      





700S Squadron

706 Squadron

707 Squadron

737 Squadron

771 Squadron

772 Squadron

810 Squadron

814 Squadron

819 Squadron

820 Squadron

824 Squadron

825 Squadron

826 Squadron

845 Squadron

846 Squadron

848 Squadron

849 Squadron

854 Squadron

857 Squadron

22 Squadron

78 Squadron

202 Squadron

203R Squadron



Motto: Experienta Docet (Experience teaches)

No700 squadron has the distinction of being the unit which takes new aircraft into service. Most of the major Intensive Flying Trials Units (IFTU) have been formed as units of 700 squadron and the squadron maintains a ‘Phoenix’ like existence as it is recommissioned for new equipment only and is disbanded once the work is complete.

The Sea King IFTU was commissioned as No700S squadron at RNAS Culdrose on 19th August 1969, under the command of Lt Cdr V Sirett with six Sea King HAS 1’s. The squadron went about its task with distinction; by the time the unit disbanded in May 1970 each aircraft had flown an average of 468 hours.

The outcome of this work was the award of the Boyd Trophy to Lt Cdr V Sirett for his command of the squadron.

Just 3 months after the first flight of the Sea King HAS.1, 700(S) Squadron formed at RNAS Culdrose in Aug 1969 to evaluate the type's performance and effectiveness in the anti-submarine role. Initially equipped with the same well understood sensors proven by 700(H) when it introduced the Wessex HAS.3, 700(S) successfully demonstrated the superior performance and endurance of the Sea King. Its work paved the way for the creation of 706 Squadron in Jan 1970, followed by the first front line Sea King HAS.1 unit, 824 Squadron in Feb 1970, then 826 in Jun 1970, 737 in Jul 1970, 819 in Feb 1972, 820 in Dec 1972 and 814 Squadron in Mar 1973. 700(S) disbanded in May 1970.

Representative Aircraft

HAS 1: - XV644/582 CU, XV647/585 CU, XV645/583 CU, XV648/586 CU,

                XV646/584 CU, XV649/587 CU                    


Motto: Montez

706 squadrons involvement with the Sea King is long standing. Based at RNAS Culdrose the home of the Sea King, 706 is tasked with the training and conversion of pilots for the aircraft this includes advanced flying training. The squadron has operated all marks of the anti-submarine variant over the years.

In 1978 a flight was formed in 706 to operate Sea Kings from RFA Fort Grange. The squadron was also the host unit for the RAF Sea King Training Unit which brought the HAR 3 into service in 1978.

706 Squadron disbanded in Feb 1998 at RNAS Culdrose.

Representative Aircraft

HAS 1 : - XV714/343 FG. HAS 5: - XV652/581 CU. HAS 2: - XV653/598 CU


Motto: Ne Gladius Dormiat (Let the sword not sleep)

707 squadron has operated the Sea King HC 4 since October 1983 and is the unit responsible for conversion and training for the commando squadrons. Its operating base is RNAS Yeovilton.

The Sea King HC.4 began to arrive in Oct 1983 and its Wessex were transferred to 771 Squadron from Apr 1985. It formed the core of 848 Squadron for its 1991 Gulf War deployment. Between Oct 1993 and Mar 1994 a 3 aircraft Z Flight was detached to RAF Aldergrove (EGAA). It disbanded in Feb 1995, when it again formed the core of a new 848 Squadron.

Representative Aircraft

HC 4: - ZA295/ZC


Motto: Purposeful

This squadron was reformed at Portland in 1959 to undertake the role of anti-submarine Operational Flying Training. It was partially re-equipped with Sea King in July 1970 and retained them until 1975, primarily concerned with training for the ships flight role.

With the out of service date for the Wessex HAS 3 rapidly approaching a decision was taken in 1982 to detach four aircraft from 706 squadron to carry out the aircrew conversion on to the Sea King. During the four month detachment all the engineers were 706 personnel and the aircrew were 737 squadron. The squadron’s swansong was to be a short detached period on HMS Hermes in order to complete the aircrew conversion.

RNAS Portland's longest serving Squadron disbanded on 7 Feb 1983.

Representative Aircraft

HAS 1: - XV670/664 PO


Motto: Non Nobis Solum (Not unto us alone)

The main task of 771 squadron is the provision of 24 hour Search and Rescue cover based at RNAS Culdrose. An additional requirement is for SAR cover based at HMS Gannet at Prestwick airport this is Gannet SAR.

Representative Aircraft

HU 5: - XV666/821 CU, XV651/824 CU

Current aircraft: - XV648, XV666, XV673, ZA130, ZA134, ZA137, ZA167.

Gannet SAR: - XV661, XV705, XZ920.


Converting on 2nd February 1988, 772 squadron operates out of RNAS Portland with Sea King HC-4, performing FONA directed tasks and flight deck training. The squadron also provided 24 hour SAR cover. It disbanded on 30 Sep 1995, after serving 21 years at RNAS Portland.

Representative Aircraft

HC 4: - ZF121/21, ZF123/23


Motto: Ut fulmina de caelo (Like a thunderbolt from heaven)                   

810 squadron was reformed at RNAS Culdrose in February 1983 commissioning with 10 Sea King HAS.5 on 3 Mar 1983, taking on part of the role of 737 Squadron. to provide Advanced Flying Training for anti-submarine warfare aircrew.

It held regular deployments to RFA Engadine (K08) to 1989 and RFA Argus (A135), although some of the advanced flying training tasks were relinquished to 706 Squadron in Oct 1985. The Sea King HAS.6 was introduced in Oct 1989 allowing the HAS.5 to be retired in Feb 1990. It became the HAS.6 OEU parent unit when it absorbed E Flt of 826 Squadron in Jul 1993, when that unit disbanded. Decommissioned Jul 2001 when its main role was taken over by 814 Squadron and its capability for SAR cover was assumed by 771 Squadron.

Representative Aircraft

HAS 5: - ZA130/503 CU, XZ920/510 CU


Motto: In hoc signo vinces (In this sign you will conquer)

Reformed on 30 Mar 1973 at HMS Gannet with a small number of Sea King HAS.1s, with which it undertook critical passive sonar trials during 1975. The Sea King HAS.2 was introduced in Nov 1977 and the unit was the first to have its airframes fitted with the Jezebel sonar equipment. It moved to Culdrose in Apr 1976 and conducted intensive passive sonar training. By the end of 1976, the unit had received nine airframes, followed by the replacement of some with HAS.2A conversions. When the Falklands conflict broke out, the unit was being equipped with the Sea King HAS.5. Six of the HAS 2 aircraft were re-directed to form the core of 825 squadron along with 3 aircraft from 706OFT and one aircraft from 819 squadron. In Aug 1982, it embarked on HMS Illustrious (R06) for South Atlantic operations. Further improvements in capability followed when the Sea King HAS.6 was introduced in Oct 1992. 814 Squadron was disbanded after service in the Gulf, Bosnia and Kosovo, at RNAS Culdrose in Dec 2000. The squadron has recently reformed and currently operates Merlin HM-1.

Representative Aircraft

HAS 1: - XV672/271 H, XV700/272 H. HAS 2: - XV713/267 H. HAS 5: - ZA167/273        


Motto: Redam Feri Claudum (Strike the foot that limps)

With a SAR gap to be closed, the usefulness of a naval aviation presence close to the Clyde bases and the need to provide protection for offshore assets around Scotland, 819 Squadron reformed on 9 Feb 1971 at RNAS Culdrose as the third front line Sea King HAS.1 unit. Once new facilities to house the squadron at Prestwick (HMS Gannet) were ready, it moved in on 27 Oct 1971. The Sea King HAS.2 was introduced in Dec 1977, followed by the HAS.5 in Feb 1985 and the HAS.6 in Apr 1989 (from 824 Squadron). The unit absorbed the remaining 2 Sea King HAS.5s from 824 Squadron in Aug 1989 and took over the 4 airframes from A, B, C & D Flights of 826 Squadron in Jul 1993. On 31 Oct 2001, the unit formally disbanded by becoming HMS Gannet SAR Flight of 771 Squadron, although the presence of the SAR Flight airframes continued at Prestwick.

Representative Aircraft

HAS 1: - XV655/304 PW. HAS 2: -  XV674/306 PW                     


Motto: Tutamen et ultor (Safeguard and Avenge)

In Dec 1972, the Sea King HAS.1 replaced the Wessex in the anti-submarine role and the squadron embarked in HMS Blake the following year. These in turn were updated by the Sea King HAS.2 in Jan 1977 and the short-lived HAS.2A in Jan 1979, prior to transferring to HMS Hermes (R12) in Jan 1980.

It disembarked from HMS Hermes (R12) to RNAS Culdrose in Mar 1980 and replaced the HAS.2As with the Sea King HAS.5 in Nov 1980 in time to work up with HMS Invincible (R05), embarking in Feb 1981. The Squadron was involved in intensive flying in the South Atlantic, initially embarked in HMS Invincible but also operating briefly from San Carlos during Jun 1982. The primary task of the squadron was to provide anti-submarine cover for the task force which it maintained to good effect, the CO, Lt Cdr R Wykes Sneyd was awarded the Air Force Cross. After a brief Far East tour, the unit returned to the UK in Mar 1984 when HMS Invincible developed mechanical difficulties.

Further deployments followed, including the transfer to HMS Ark Royal (R07) during early 1986 for later deployments to the Far East and Australia. The unit was a key player during 1993 in the NATO intervention in Bosnia and then transferred to HMS Illustrious (R06) in Autumn 1994, followed by service in the Gulf during late 1998. The Merlin HM.1 was cautiously introduced as a single Flight from Sep 2001 and dual operation with the Sea King HAS.6 continued until Mar 2003 when the Sea King was finally retired. The squadron has reformed and operates Merlin HM-1.

Representative Aircraft

HAS 1: -XV708/410 BL. HAS 2: -  XZ575/410 BL        

HAS 5: -XZ918/010 N,  ZA127/61N, XZ576/411 N                                                         


Motto: Spectat ubique spiritus (The wing everywhere looks on)

The first of the front line Sea King squadrons, 824 was reformed at RNAS Culdrose in February 1970 embarking with the fleet carrier HMS Ark Royal the following September, remaining with the ship until its decommissioning in 1978.

In 1977 the squadron re-equipped with Sea King HAS 2 and became the parent unit for the RFA Sea King flights, since that time its aircraft have served in RFA’s as well as the current crop of aircraft carriers.

It was 824D Flight which were equipped with two Sea King AEW 2 after hasty conversion during the Falklands Conflict. 824D embarked in HMS Illustrious and headed south. The squadron disbanded in August 1989. The squadron reformed and now operates Merlin HM-1.

Representative Aircraft

HAS 1                         XV703/050 R                        AEW 2 XV704/361 CU *

                                    XV656/052 R                        AEW 2 XV650/062 CU *

HAS 2                         XV659/053 R                        HAS 5 XV711/353 CU

                                    XV660/350 CU

*It is sad to note that in 2003 whilst on operations in the Gulf these two aircraft collided in mid-air with the loss of all on board, they were configured as ASaC 7 aircraft.


Motto: Nihil Obstat (Nothing stops us)

To meet the anticipated need for Sea King units in the South Atlantic, 825 Squadron was hastily reformed on 3 May 1982 with Sea King HAS.2/2As at RNAS Culdrose. Airframes were pulled from 706OFT Squadron, 819 and six ex-814 aircraft that were being stored prior to Mk 5 conversion, as the FAA inventory was scoured. Most airframes retained the side numbers they last wore, prior to being invited (!) to join the unit. It embarked for the Falkland Islands on the SS Atlantic Causeway (8 Sea Kings) on 12 May and SS Queen Elizabeth II (2 Sea Kings) on 13 May 1982. It operated mainly from Port San Carlos and nearby forward bases where it was involved in the rescuing of survivors from the Sir Galahad until it re-embarked for the UK, returning towards the end of Jul 1982, where it disbanded at RNAS Culdrose 17 Sep 1982.

Representative Aircraft:

HAS 2: - XV656/703, XV700                 


Motto: Latet anguis in aqua (A snake lies concealed in the water)

Reformed with 4 Sea King HAS.1s in Jun 1970, adding 2 more later, it embarked on HMS Eagle's last pre-reserve deployment, in Nov 1970 to the Far East and Australia via the Mediterranean. 826 Squadron then embarked on RFA Engadine (K08) for the spring in Mar 1972, operating from Culdrose when shore based. It reduced to 4 Sea Kings and embarked HMS Tiger (C24) by Aug 1972. It became the first front-line unit to receive the improved Sea King HAS.2, and 4 airframes had been delivered to Culdrose by Dec 1976. It disembarked from HMS Tiger for the last time in Apr 1978 and was re-assigned to HMS Bulwark (R08) in Feb 1979 as she was completing a refit.

It converted to the Sea King HAS.5 in Mar 1981 and undertook trials of the Magnetic Anomaly Detection sensors. 9 airframes initially embarked HMS Hermes in Sep 1981 and went south for the duration of the Falklands campaign. The CO of 826, Lt Cdr D Squier was awarded the Air Force Cross recognising the squadron’s part in the campaign. Split into 3 Flights (having taken over 824 Squadron's A and C Flights in Jan 1983), it provided a Sea King anti-submarine Flight for the Falkland Islands on rotation until Aug 1986 (the SAR duty having been taken up by the RAF's 1310 Flight and subsequently by 78 Squadron). The Squadron's C and D Flights moved to the Middle East in Dec 1990 and Mar 1991, for Operation Desert Shield / Desert Storm.

E Flight was formed to evaluate the much improved Sea King HAS.6 in Jun 1991 at Culdrose, spending time at Farnborough and Boscombe Down before becoming absorbed into 810 Squadron in Jul 1993. The other 4 HAS.5 airframes were operating as single flights, until they in turn were transferred to 819 Squadron, leading to 826 Squadron disbanding in late Jul 1993.

Representative Aircraft

HAS 1: - XV647/144 TG, XV663/141 E

HAS 5: - ZA132/134 H, XV577/142 H                                                                              

HAS 2: - XZ573/141 TG, XV671/146 H                      


Motto: Audio Hostem (I hear the enemy)

The second of the 'Junglie' Squadrons to take delivery of the new Mk 4 Sea King as a replacement of the Wessex Mk 5, the post Falklands era saw the Squadron engaged in operations and exercises around the world from the United States to Australia, Borneo to Norway.  It was during the 1990 Winter Exercise to Norway, in support of Royal Marines Arctic Training, that the Squadron was re-tasked to support Operation Granby as part of the multi-national force to liberate Kuwait from the Iraqi invasion forces.  Immediately after returning home 845 NAS was re-deployed to Turkey and Northern Iraq to assist in the protection of the Kurds. November 1992 saw the commencement of protracted tours in Bosnia and Herzegovina in support of the United Nations and NATO peacekeeping operations.  845 NAS was the longest serving unit in theatre, maintaining a permanent presence in the former Yugoslavia until 2005. More recently the Squadron was again involved in extensive operations in Iraq as part of Operation Telic.  Instrumental in the military campaign 845 NAS was the primary Support Helicopter Squadron in theatre and lead element in the highly successful amphibious assault on the Al-Faw Peninsula by 40 Commando, Royal Marines.  The Squadron has since maintained a regular presence in Iraq alongside 846 NAS in support of Multi National Forces in the region.

Representative Aircraft

HC 4: - ZA312/YC, ZF117/YG

Current aircraft: - ZA299, ZA310, ZF117, ZF120, XV676, XV700.


Motto: Semper instans (Always threatening)

In February 1979 the squadron joined HMS Bulwark and from December of that year began a modernisation programme with the Sea King HC4. 846 have long been associated with exercises in northern Norway as part of NATO's Northern Flank, but in April 1982 846 embarked HMS Hermes as part of the Falkland Island Task Force. During this operation the aircraft flew over 2800 hours, completed 10,000 individual troop moves and transported more than 18 million pounds of freight. In 1983 detachments were embarked on HMS Hermes and HMS Invincible and at the end of the year elements of 846 joined HMS Fearless on stand-by off the coast of Lebanon for the eventual withdrawal of British Nationals and troops from Beirut. In 1990 the squadron deployed to the Gulf to take part in Operation Desert Storm, which led to the liberation of Kuwait in February 1991. During the 6 week campaign the Squadron flew a total of 1200 hours in support of Allied ground forces. From there they moved to northern Iraq to assist with humanitarian relief for the Kurds. In January 1993, 846 embarked HMS Ark Royal as part of the British Task Group and sailed for the Adriatic. There they played their part in the UN operations in Yugoslavia. No sooner had the Squadron returned from these duties than they were sent to replace 707 Squadron in Northern Ireland and remained there until 2002 providing support to the security forces.

Representative Aircraft

HC 4: - ZA294/VT, ZA295/VM, ZA297/VG

Current aircraft: - XZ922, ZA293, ZA295, ZA297, ZD477, ZD480, ZD626, ZE428, ZF118, ZF122, ZF124, ZG820, ZG821,

 848 squadron

Motto: Accipe hoc (Take that)

Another squadron with a long established background in the commando role, 848 squadron was reformed with the Sea King HC.4 at Yeovilton on 16 Nov 1990 to see service in Operations Desert Shield and Desert Storm in the Middle East. It returned to the UK and disbanded again on 19 Apr 1991 but reformed in 1995 to undertaken its current operational training and Royal Marines support role.

Representative Aircraft

HC4: - ZB507/ZN, ZA293/ZO, ZA312/ZS

Current aircraft: - ZA291, ZA292, ZA314, ZB507, ZD476, ZD479, ZD627, ZE425, ZE426, ZF116, ZF119, ZF123, ZG822.



Motto: Primus Video (First to see)

The need for airborne early warning has been fundamental to maritime operations since the war in the Pacific. Lack of AEW was one of the hard lessons learnt from the Falklands campaign and the converted Sea Kings which became the AEW 2 were eventually placed with 849.

The unit's HQ Flight reformed from a nucleus of 824 Squadron D Flight with Sea King AEW.2 on 1 Nov 1984 at RNAS Culdrose.  A Flight (airframes carry an Aardvark badge) followed on 31 May 1985 for a commission on HMS Illustrious and B Flight (airframes carry a Bee badge) for a tour on HMS Ark Royal. The Eyes of the Fleet were back in business.

On 13 Dec 2006 in a ceremony at RNAS Culdrose, A Flight (Aadrvarks) and B Flight (Bees) which had been integral parts of the unit since 1953 and 1952 respectively were each elevated to full Squadron status, with 3 Sea King ASaC.7 airframes apiece. A Flight became 854 Squadron and B Flight became 857 Squadron.

Representative Aircraft

AEW 2: - XV650/180 CU, XV707/181 CU

Current aircraft: - XV664, XV697, XV707.


Motto: Audentes Fortuna Juvat  (Fortune helps the Daring)

The unit reformed with the Sea King ASaC.7 on 13 Dec 2006 at RNAS Culdrose from 849 Squadron, A Flight. 849 A Flight were re-badged to become 854 Naval Air Squadron on 13 December 2006 under the command of Lt Cdr DM Biggs RN.  Her sister unit 849 B Flight became 857 NAS, along with the existing 849 NAS, reinstating the trio of Naval Air Squadrons which had been part of No. 157 Wing RAF.  849 A Flight had maintained the unit’s historical link with HMS Illustrious in the summer of 2006 as part of the latest ‘Lusty’s Tailored Air Group for operations in the Med, Gulf and India including taking part in the evacuation of British Nationals from the Lebanon.  854 NAS handover the status of Very High Readiness as part of the NATO Carrier Air Group in Summer 2007 to 857 NAS.

Current aircraft: - XV656, ZA126, ZE420.


Motto: Animis Opibusque Parati (Prepared In Minds & Resources)

The unit reformed with the Sea King ASaC.7 on 13 Dec 2006 at RNAS Culdrose from 849 Squadron, B Flight. In November 2002 the last Mk2 sortie was flown and the Squadron received its first Airborne Surveillance and Control (ASaC) Mk7 aircraft, thus beginning a new phase in the Squadron history. In its new guise as 857 NAS, the Squadron will continue to operate the Sea King ASaC Mk7 until the introduction of the Maritime Airborne Surveillance and Control (MASC) aircraft, due 2017.

Current aircraft: - XV649, XV671, XV714.



Motto: Preux et Audacieux (Valiant and Brave)

Reformed again in 1955, the squadron took on the Search and Rescue role it maintains today. Initially equipped with Westland Whirlwinds, these were later replaced by the Westland Wessex. Finally, in the mid-1990s, the squadron received six newly built Sea King HAR.3A to supplement the Sea King HAR.3 aircraft which replaced the Wessex aircraft.

The squadron HQ is as of 2007 located as RMB Chivenor in Devon. Detachments of two aircraft operate from three other stations to provide search and rescue cover in their respective parts of the country; these are:

  • 'A' Flight - RMB Chivenor, Devon - ZH542, ZH545.
  • 'B' Flight - Wattisham, Suffolk - ZH543, ZH544.
  • 'C' Flight - RAF Valley, Anglesey - XZ590, XZ591, XZ593, XZ599, XV709(GIA)


Motto: Nemo non Paratus (Nobody unprepared)

The Squadron reformed on May 22 1986 and has operated in the same role since then. Originally operating the Chinook HC.1, these were replaced with HC.2s. The squadron also operated the Sea King HAR-3 in the search and rescue role

From 1988 to 2007, No. 78 Squadron was the only RAF squadron permanently based in the Falkland Islands. The four Tornado F3s which provide air defence are operated by No. 1435 Flight, while No. 1312 Flight operates a single Vickers VC10 and one C-130K Hercules.

In December 2007, No. 78 Squadron reverted to its previous identity of No. 1564 Flight and a new No. 78 Squadron formed at RAF Benson as part of the Joint Helicopter Command, flying the Merlin HC3 and the new Merlin HC3A helicopters purchased from Denmark. By 2008, the total fleet of twenty eight RAF Merlin helicopters will be operated in a pool with 28 (AC) Squadron, also based at RAF Benson.

Aircraft:- XZ586, XZ592.


Motto: Semper Vigilate Be always vigilant)

202 Squadron was reformed by the renumbering of No. 228 Squadron RAF at RAF Leconfield, 202 began operating in its search and rescue role using the Westland Whirlwind. The squadron moved to RAF Finningley on re-equipping with Sea Kings in 1978 (without operating the Wessex HAR.2 as an intermediate type), moving its HQ to Boulmer on the closure of Finningley in 1996. The squadron usually has two aircraft at each of its locations which, as of 2005, are:

  • HQ & 'A' Flight - RAF Boulmer - XZ597, XZ598, ZE369.
  • 'D' Flight - RAF Lossiemouth - XZ588, XZ594
  • 'E' Flight - RAF Leconfield - XZ587, ZE105.


Motto: Occidens Oriensque (West and East)

The Squadron was reformed in October 1996, when the Sea King Operational Conversion Unit (OCU) at RAF St Mawgan in Cornwall was redesignated 203(R) Squadron as a reserve unit. In early 2004, it flew the Sea King HAR.3A. The squadron has recently moved to RAF Valley.


Back to top

Home | Feedback | Bibliography Future projects