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        HMS Gannet

        HMS Gannet

        Thanks for dropping in on the homepage of HMS Gannet Search and Rescue Flight – Britain’s busiest rescuers. We’re scrambled every day of the year – twice on many – saving lives from Northern Ireland to Edinburgh, the Isle of Man and Lake District to the slopes of Ben Nevis, covering an area of 98,000 square miles (12 times the size of Wales...) with just three Sea King helicopters.

        Sea King Mk5

        Our men and women have won countless awards for bravery over the past 40 years and received hundreds of heartfelt letters of thanks from people we’ve helped.

        Although we’re a naval unit, the bulk of our time is spent over the mountains of western Scotland helping climbers in difficulty: two out of three call-outs are concentrated on these ‘dry jobs’.


        Andy Drodge

        Andrew Drodge
        Lieutenant Commander
        HMS Illustrious, NAS 750, 771
        Military experience

        Raised and educated in Devon, Andy Drodge joined the RN in 1989 as a Seaman Officer. After passing out from Britannia Royal Naval College, he immediately deployed in HMS Manchester to the Gulf for Operation Granby.

        Officer of the Watch jobs followed on board HMS Brinton (Ton Class Mine Hunter) and HMS Endurance (Ice Patrol Ship) before he was selected for flying training in 1994.

        Gaining his ‘Wings’ as an ASW Sea King Observer in 1996, he joined 820 NAS on board HMS Illustrious. Deployed worldwide he served during time of tension in the NAG. Appointed as Flight Observer to 810 B Flight, on board HMS Campbeltown (Type 22 Frigate), he spent a significant period of time deployed as part of NATO’s Standing Naval Force Atlantic in the Northern Atlantic.

        Andy then moved on to an instructional tour on 750 NAS, teaching new observers the art of navigation. Followed by a further instructional tour as a Staff Warfare Officer at Flag Officer Sea Training, based in Devonport, Plymouth, he trained ship’s aviation support teams in the safe operation of aircraft.

        He then joined Navy Command Headquarters where he assumed responsibility for the maintenance of aviation safety at sea and represented the RN in NATO and worldwide Embarked Aviation Working Groups.

        His first tour on Search and Rescue duties was as the Senior Observer and 2nd in Command of 771 NAS at Culdrose in Cornwall where he spent 2½ years, completing in excess of 130 SAR callouts.

        This was followed by an Operational Tour at the UK’s Maritime Component Commander’s Headquarters in Bahrain where he was involved with the co-ordination and control of all Royal Navy maritime operations east of the Suez Canal.

        He then joined the Defence Equipment and Support organisation at Abbey Wood in Bristol, as the Rotary Wing Requirements Manager for the Flight Simulation and Synthetic Training Project Team. In this role he ensured the requirements for helicopter computer based and simulator training were commensurate with the needs of the RAF, Army and RN.

        Selected for Command of HMS Gannet in February 2012, he took up the post in June 2012.




        A Royal Navy helicopter has rescued two walkers from the summit of Buachaille Etive Mor in Glen Coe.
        Two walkers rescued from 3,350ft on Buachaille Etive Mor in icy 60mph winds
        05 March 2014

        A Royal Navy helicopter has rescued two walkers from the...

        12 days of Christmas – 27 missions for the Navy’s Search and Rescue fliers
        08 January 2014

        The foul weather which lashed Britain almost non-stop over the...

        Royal Navy helicopter mountain rescue
        Walkers lifted from 3619ft Beinn Ghlas near Loch Tay
        02 January 2014

        A Royal Navy helicopter has airlifted two walkers to safety...

        Her Majesty’s Armed Forces celebrate New Year around the world
        Her Majesty’s Armed Forces celebrate New Year around the world
        31 December 2013

        As the clocks toll midnight this evening, some members of...


        Search and Rescue

        CURRENT STATUS: active

        The Royal Navy's Fleet Air Arm also provide Search and Rescue cover to large sections of the United Kingdom coastline, 24 hours a day and 365 days per year, typically at 15 minutes notice. Based at RNAS Culdrose in Cornwall and HMS Gannet, Prestwick, in Scotland, Royal Navy helicopters are constantly available and fly missions that are as varied as they are far-reaching.



        SAR Call-Outs 2013


        Persons Assisted


        TAKE A LOOK

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        HMS Gannet HISTORY

        • The line begins...

          The HMS Gannet line begins in 1800 with a sloop which saw action in the North Sea and Baltic during the Napoleonic Wars. Gannets 2 and 3, both sloops, served in the Americas and Mediterranean respectively in the mid-19th Century.

        • The fourth Gannet

          The fourth Gannet is undoubtedly the most famous; an 1878 barque which saw action against the Mahdi’s forces in the Sudan campaigns. Renamed, she would eventually serve as a drill ship on the Thames, HMS President. She is now preserved in Chatham.

        • China Station

          Gannet 5 and 6 were a tender and gunboat respectively. No.7 too was a gunboat, serving on the China Station from the late 1920s until she was transferred to the Chinese Navy in 1942.

        • Fleet Air Arm

          The Fleet Air Arm ties with Gannet began in 1943 when the RAF airfield at Eglinton in Northern Ireland transferred to RN control. The air station played its part in the latter stages of the Battle of the Atlantic and continued to serve the FAA until closed in the spring of 1959.

        • Prestwick

          The current unit traces its history back to 1971 when the ninth Gannet was commissioned at Prestwick Airport. Its focus then was not saving lives but hunting Soviet submarines; with the then new Polaris deterrent based just up the Forth of Clyde, Britain’s ultimate insurance policy needed a little insurance of its own.

        • Anti submarine

          Three squadrons of anti-submarine specialists have called Gannet their home: the Flying Tigers of 814 NAS, 824 NAS and 819 NAS. The latter were the last to leave, decommissioning in 2001. By that date, Search and Rescue – a vital, if ancillary, role in 1971 – had become Gannet’s raison d’être.

        • Search and Rescue

          Fifteen years ago, the Sea Kings were scrambled once every two days on average. By 2009, the helicopters were flying nearly 450 missions every year.

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