824 NAS

824 Naval Air Squadron

824 Naval Air Squadron feeds the three front-line Merlin squadrons with the men and women needed to fly and maintain the world’s No.1 anti-submarine helicopter.

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With the aid of eight helicopters and state-of-the-art simulators, which are used not just by air crew, but also ground crew, the Culdrose-based squadron provides the qualified personnel our operational sister squadrons constantly need. 

Trainee pilots, observers and aircrewmen work together as a crew during the 44 week course, covering all aspects of Merlin operations – submarine hunting, boarding operations, search and rescue missions, counter-piracy, carrying cargo. 

Having successfully completed the course – which in some cases means the end of four years of training – they are awarded their coveted ‘wings’, and sent to front line squadrons: 814, 820 and 829.

Trainee Merlin crews spring into action with carrier battle group


824 Naval Air Squadron Latest News

Culdrose fliers’ Great War battlefield pilgrimage


Merlin aircrew work magic in the Scillies

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Current operation Operational Sea Training

The ship/boat and her crew are being put through their paces in preparation for front line operations.

Location UK

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Unit History

A Spotter Reconnaissance Squadron1933

First commissioned in April 1933 as a spotter reconnaissance squadron, the squadron disbanded no fewer than ten times between 1934 and 1970.

A Busy War1939

It distinguished itself during World War 2 in convoy and escort duties, bombing raids, gunnery spotting and carrying out attacks on enemy destroyers, flying Swordfish, Seal, Barracuda and Firefly.

World War 21940

The high point of an illustrious career was its attack on the Italian Fleet at anchor in its main base of Taranto in November 1940. It was directly responsible for disabling several Italian capital ships.

The Falklands1982

In 1982, the squadron deployed with the task force to liberate the Falklands and, as well as operations, it was responsible for trials of the Sea King Airborne Early Warning (‘bagger’) variant.

Bagger Trials1984

Trials of the 'bagger' subsequent to the Falklands conflict led to part of 824 NAS re-forming as 849 Naval Air Squadron in November 1984.


As for 824, it finally disbanded in August 1989 and its aircraft were transferred to 819 Squadron at Prestwick.

A Training Squadron2000

824 finished its illustrious front-line career when it was reformed as the Merlin training squadron in 2000; a role that it has been fulfilling exceptionally well ever since.

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Commanding Officer Russell

Rank: Commander

Commander Russell joined the Royal Navy in 2000, he is now in command of 824 Naval air Squadron.

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RNAS Culdrose

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824 NAS Affiliations

Merlin Training