820 NAS

820 Naval Air Squadron

820 Naval Air Squadron – The Flying Fish – deploy and operate the Merlin Mk2 on land and at sea anywhere around the globe.

Add to favourites

820 NAS is based at RNAS Culdrose in Cornwall,  however they are often found deployed on board one of the RN’s Capital Ships.

Their main job is to help protect a Task Group from enemy submarines, a really important task when they embark HMS Queen Elizabeth in the future.

820 NAS also conduct other missions, like: anti-piracy operations off Somalia (2012); humanitarian aid and nation support (The fight against Ebola - Sierra Leone – 2014/15) or; provide maritime surveillance to keep our seas safe for shipping (Op Kipion - Middle East - 2014/16).


On Deployment

This unit is currently on deployment find out how that might affect you.

Read more

The carrier’s first squadron: refreshed, refocussed, remarinised


820 Naval Air Squadron Latest News

Helston schoolchildren learn basic survival skills

Helston schoolchildren learn basic survival skills


820 Squadron toast heroes who crippled the Bismarck 75 years ago

See all news for 820 Naval Air Squadron

Current operation Joint Expeditionary Force (Maritime)

The task group will provide a powerful military capability, giving HM Government a range of options to allow the UK to respond rapidly in the event of an overseas crisis.

  • Exercise Trident Juncture

    Exercise Trident Juncture 2015 will be held through October and November, predominantly in, over and on the seas around Portugal, Spain and Italy. It is one of a series of long-planned exercises to ensure that NATO Allies are ready to deal with any emerging crisis, from any direction, and that they are able to work effectively with partners in tackling any crisis.

  • Cougar 15

    Cougar is the annual deployment of the UK’s high readiness maritime joint expeditionary force

International partnerships

As the fifth largest economy in the world, the UK has responsibilities towards its allies and partners. But Britain also has global ambitions – namely to protect the seaways underpinning the country’s prosperity. The Royal Navy plays a crucial role in fostering these enduring and lasting alliances with other nations.

Providing security at sea

The UK has a responsibility to its citizens and its allies to endeavour to safeguard the high seas. This is why the Royal Navy protects home and international waters – making sure the global trade that Britain and the world depend on can proceed without a hitch.

Location Mediterranean

prev next

Unit History


First formed in 1933 when the RAF transferred several Fairey III aircraft from its 405 Flight to the Royal Navy. For two thirds of its lifespan 820 NAS would be devoted to anti-submarine warfare.

Early Years1934

Originally attached to HMS Courageous on reconnaissance duties, it was reassigned to HMS Ark Royal IV which would be its home for much of the legendary carrier’s three-year career.

Battle Honours1940

All but one of its 12 battle honours were earned before its fliers specialised in anti-submarine warfare. 820 NAS bombed German airfields in the Norway Campaign 1940-41 and Spartivento 1940.

Battle Honours1941

Most famously, 820 was responsible for crippling the pride of Hitler’s Kriegsmarine in the famous engagement with the Bismarck (nemesis of the Hood) in 1941.

Battle Honours1943

Re-equipped with Fairey Albacore torpedo bombers, the squadron supported the Allied landings in North Africa (sinking the U-boat which had destroyed HMS Barham), Sicily and Salerno.

New Aircraft1944

More new aircraft (Fairey Barracudas) and a new target (Tirpitz) followed (it didn’t sink the leviathan) before yet another change, Grumman Avengers, and a final theatre in the Far East.

Battle Honours1945

In those final months, 820's Avengers struck at the oil refineries of Palembang and the heart of the Japanese Empire before HMS Indefatigable brought the NAS home in 1946, and 820 disbanded.

Reformation and Revolution1951

The squadron re-formed five years later, first with fixed-wing aircraft (Fireflies, Avengers and Gannets) before the decision was taken to convert to helicopters.

Anti-Submarine Warfare1957

In December 1957, 820’s association with anti-submarine warfare began. Whirlwinds, Wessex and Sea Kings formed the cutting edge in the war against the underwater threat.

Battle Honours1982

The squadron’s most recent battle honour was earned in the Falklands (its aircrew flew more than 4,700 hours during the campaign to re-take the South Atlantic islands).

Farewell Sea King2003

820 finally bade farewell to the Sea King in 2003 and welcomed the helicopter which is now the mainstay of Britain’s anti-submarine defence.

Queen Elizabeth Class Aircraft Carriers Future

An island nation needs a powerful navy. A simple fact, often forgotten. Go behind the scenes of the new aircraft carrier and discover its true scale and ambition.

Read about the new carrier

Commanding Officer Jon Holroyd

Rank: Commander

Cdr Holroyd took command of 820 NAS on the 8th February 2016.

Previous units

Download full profile

Aircrew Officer Observer/ Navigation & Weapon Systems

Join us

RNAS Culdrose

Learn more