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Protecting our Nation's Interests

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814 NAS

814 Naval Air Squadron

814 Naval Air Squadron is better known throughout the Royal Navy as 'The Flying Tigers' due to its distinctive badge.  The Squadron currently operates the world leading Anti-Submarine Warfare helicopter, the Merlin HM Mk1 from Royal Naval Air Station Culdrose in Cornwall.

Merlin Fast Roping Exercise

Embracing the Squadron’s motto: ‘In Hoc Signo Vinces’ (‘In this sign you will conquer’), 814 NAS is a high readiness, globally deployable Naval Air Squadron tasked with flying from ships and air bases around the world to provide protection to the Fleet from ship and submarine threats or working with our international partners to provide global maritime security where it is needed.  Highly versatile, The Flying Tigers can also be called upon for Search and Rescue operations and the transportation of stores, equipment and personnel to ships, submarines and locations ashore.

The Squadron comprises 140 professional, adaptable and highly trained men and women who encompass a broad range of skills which include Pilots, Observers, Aircrewmen, Engineers and Logistics specialists.  All are Sailors first and foremost, capable of maintaining and operating this technologically advanced aircraft globally for sustained periods from ships at sea or air bases ashore.

As the Royal Navy Merlin is the UK’s only military aircraft equipped with acoustic sensors, Anti Submarine Warfare (ASW) is a core role for 814 NAS. Every opportunity is taken to maintain our expertise, using the Merlin’s highly advanced SONAR technologies in this demanding discipline.

In September 2013 the ‘Flying Tigers’ embarked in the aircraft carrier HMS Illustrious as part of the Royal Navy’s Response Force Task Group participating in the UK’s COUGAR 13 maritime deployment.  This included operating against a partner submarine for a week of ASW exercises during which our crews dominated the underwater battle space and were able to hunt down their prey whilst providing protection to the warships taking part in the exercise.

As the Royal Navy Merlin Helicopter Force continues to transition from Merlin Mk1 to Mk2 throughout 2014, 814 NAS will plan to convert to the new Mk2 aircraft towards the latter half of 2014.  This proves to be an exciting time for the Squadron with the enhanced technologies that Mk2 will provide as we continue to protect our Nation’s interests.


Stuart Finn

2014 (814 NAS) 1999 (RN)
820, 824 NAS
Military experience

Commander Stu Finn was educated at the Royal Hospital School, Suffolk, before being sponsored through Bristol University and subsequently joining Britannia Royal Naval College in 1999 as a Warfare Officer.

Bridge and Navigation training followed in the Frigates HMS Cumberland and Chatham and the Destroyer HMS Exeter including service in Sierra Leone and qualification as a Ship’s Diver.

On completion of professional navigation training at HMS Dryad, Portsmouth he was appointed to undertake the duties of Navigating Officer in the Hunt Class Minesweeper HMS Cattistock as his first complement appointment.

In 2003 he transferred to Naval Flying Duties as an Observer and was subsequently streamed onto the Merlin Maritime Patrol Helicopter specialising in Anti-Submarine Warfare.

His first front line flying appointment was with 814 Naval Air Squadron during which he embarked in the aircraft carrier HMS Illustrious and Royal Fleet Auxiliary Fort Victoria for deployments to the Indian Ocean and Arabian Sea conducting Maritime Security Operations.

He also spent an enjoyable period as the Embarked Flight Observer in the Type 23 Frigate HMS Monmouth in the Far East and Australasia.

In 2008 he joined 824 Naval Air Squadron and qualified as an Instructor teaching trainee observers how to operate the Merlin helicopter.

He was briefly loaned to 820 Naval Air Squadron as the Counter Piracy Flight Commander to establish and deploy a Merlin Flight as part of the UK Enhanced Boarding Capability conducting Counter Piracy Operations off the Somali coastline.

Upon return he then joined 820 Naval Air Squadron as the Senior Observer and Executive Officer. Prior to assuming Command of 814 Naval Air Squadron he was Executive Assistant to Assistant Chief of Naval Staff (Aviation & Carriers).




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Number of miles flown to Sicily for recent exercises


Number of submarines hunted off Sicily




814 Naval Air Squadron HISTORY

  • Formation

    We began life in December 1938 operating six legendary Fairey Swordfish torpedo bombers.

  • Outbreak of War

    At the outbreak of war, 814 moved on to HMS Hermes – her limited endurance and poor stability did not suit European seas, so she was principally used for convoy protection in the South Atlantic and Indian Ocean.

  • North Africa

    In July 1940 six of her 814 NAS Swordfish attacked the Vichy French ship Richelieu at Dakar. Against concentrated anti-aircraft fire the Swordfish only managed one hit, but the new 35,000-ton battleship was disabled for over a year.

  • Destruction of Hermes

    In April 1942 while en route to the Indian Ocean in convoy from Trincomalee to the Maldives, Hermes was attacked and sunk by Japanese aircraft. Luckily, the Swordfish of 814 NAS had left her at the start of the month.

  • New Formation

    The squadron formed up with Barracudas in the summer of 1944 to embark in HMS Venerable for the Far East. Post-war 814 adapted to a succession of Fireflys, Avengers and Gannets in the anti-submarine warfare role.

  • The Whilrwind Helicopter

    In 1960 814 NAS welcomed its first rotary wing – the Whirlwind helicopter. From Whirlwind to Wessex, in 1967 the Wessex Mk3 brought the squadron its first radar-equipped ASW helicopter.

  • Reformation

    A brief lull saw the squadron out of commission between 1970 and 1973, before bursting back onto the scene in 1973 at HMS Gannet with the new Sea Kings ASW Mk1.

  • A New Base

    It was in April 1976 that the squadron settled in Cornwall’s RNAS Culdrose – where it has remained to this day; although its aircraft have been through both reincarnations and total transformations.

  • The New Mk 2 ASW Sea King

    The new Mk 2 ASW Sea King arrived in 1977 – after the squadron had played a role in the evacuation of Cyprus – and in addition 814 was the first Naval squadron fitted with passive sonar equipment.

  • Decades of Conflict

    814 operated the Mk5 and Mk6 incarnations through the last two decades of the 20th Century. The Mk6 flew from carrier HMS Invincible during the Gulf, Bosnia and Kosovo conflicts as the century drew to an end.

  • A New Millennium

    And 814 marked the birth of the new millennium by disbanding in December 2000. But ten months later the Flying Tigers were back – the striped faces now borne (subtly) upon the body of the Merlin HM1.

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