RNAS Culdrose is a significant base for the Royal Navy's maritime Merlins. As one of Europe's largest helicopter bases, it employs 3,000 people and is a major contributor to Cornwall's economy, injecting £100m annually.
Role of the base
There are many training facilities at RNAS Culdrose including the Engineering and Merlin training facilities. You can also find the School of Flight Deck operations which trains students in the art of managing aircraft movements and tackle aircraft fires.
Captain Stuart Irwin
Captain Irwin joined the Royal Navy as a Warfare Officer in 1998. His front-line aviation was mostly in Lynx Mk3 and Mk8 Maritime Attack Helicopters, as pilot and Flight Commander frequently deployed in Frigates and Destroyers from the Arctic to the Antarctic, and the Pacific to the Arabian Gulf.
He spent two years as a Maritime Counter Terrorism Flight Commander, and was Operations Officer of 815 NAS.
Selected as an Experimental Test Pilot, he became the lead Test Pilot for Wildcat Maritime Attack and Battlefield Recce variants, as well as conducting test flying in all UK military helicopter types. He was XO of the Rotary Wing Test and Evaluation Squadron. Returning to the front line, he was Senior Pilot and XO of 815NAS.
He was selected for promotion to Captain in 2020 and took command of RNAS Culdrose in July 2022.