846 NAVAL AIR SQUADRON
Motto: - 'Semper instans - Always threatening'
Role: - Airborne Support for the Royal Marines of 3 Commando Brigade
Base: - RNAS Yeovilton
Disbanded in 1945 the Squadron re-formed in 1962 flying the Whirlwind HAS 7 in the jungles of Borneo seeing considerable action against terrorist guerrillas. In 1979 the Squadron converted to the Sea King HC4. In 1982, Sea Kings from 846 NAS embarked in HMS Hermes as part of the Falkland Island Task Force. During 1983, detachments were embarked in HMS Fearless for the withdrawal of British Nationals and troops from Beirut.
The 1990’s saw the Squadron deployed to the Gulf for Operation Desert Storm, leading to the liberation of Kuwait. From there they moved to Northern Iraq to assist with humanitarian relief for the Kurds. In 1993, 846 NAS embarked in HMS Ark Royal as part of the British Task Group assisting the UN operations in Yugoslavia. On return they moved to Northern Ireland, remaining there until 2002. In 2003 the Squadron deployed on combat operations in the Iraqi desert, returning in 2006. They are currently deployed in Afghanistan.
Second World War
846 Naval Air Squadron was established in April 1943 at the Naval Air Station Quonset Point, Rhode Island, United States. It was equipped with 12 Grumman Avenger I torpedo bombers. Two months later the squadron embarked on the escort carrier HMS Ravager and was transferred to the UK. Before being assigned to HMS Tracker in January 1944, four Grumman Wildcat V fighters were added to 846 NAS. HMS Tracker was first assigned to convoys going to Gibraltar, then to Murmansk. On the latter voyage, aircraft from 846 NAS attacked eight German U-boats.
HMS Tracker was damaged in June 1944 in a collision with the Canadian frigate HMCS Teme (K458) while forming part of the naval screen for the D-Day landings, and the squadron disembarked to RAF Limavady airfield, Northern Ireland, joining 15 Group RAF Coastal Command. A month later 846 NAS was assigned to HMS Trumpeter, mainly laying mines off Norway until September 1944.
In December a detachment was formed and transferred to HMS Premier for a few days. The remainder of 846 NAS operated from HMS Trumpeter or RNAS Hatston in Orkney up to May 1945. On 4 May 1945, twelve Avenger and four Wildcat aircraft of the squadron took part in Operation Judgement, Kilbotn, the last air-raid of the war in Europe. The fighter flight was disbanded after the end of hostilities in Europe.
846 NAS was then assigned to the 4th Carrier Group and should deploy to the Far East aboard the fleet carrier HMS Illustrious. However, a change of plans led to the squadron becoming a trials unit. It was renumbered 751 NAS and was disbanded at Machrihanish, in September 1945.
846 NAS was reformed in 1962 as a Commando squadron equipped with the Westland Whirlwind HAS.7. It was deployed to Borneo aboard the commando carrier HMS Albion and flew in support of actions against guerrillas during the Indonesia–Malaysia confrontation. British Army units gave 846 NAS the nickname 'Junglies' in Borneo, which the squadron has kept until today.
After returning for the Far East, 846 NAS was disbanded again, only to be reformed in 1968 at RNAS Culdrose. This time the squadron was equipped with the Westland Wessex HU.5. The squadron deployed aboard the dock-landing ship HMS Fearless and conducted cold weather trials in Norway. In May 1972, the squadron was relocated to RNAS Yeovilton as the Wessex Headquarters and Trials Squadron. In February 1979 the squadron was deployed aboard the commando carrier HMS Bulwark. In December of the same year 846 NAS started to convert to the Westland Sea King HC.4.
In April 1982, 846 NAS embarked aboard the carrier HMS Hermes as part of the Royal Navy task force in the Falklands War. During the war 846 NAS Sea King's flew over 2800 hours, completed 10,000 individual troop moves and transported more than 81,600 t of freight.
In 1983, detachments were deployed aboard the carriers HMS Hermes and HMS Invincible. Between November 1983 and March 1984, a detachment of three Sea Kings was deployed aboard HMS Fearless and RFA Reliant to the coast of Lebanon supporting British troops involved in peacekeeping operations in Lebanon during the Lebanese Civil War and took part in the eventual withdrawal of British troops and the evacuation of civilians from Beirut, airlifting 521 civilians on 10 March 1994. The squadron was awarded the Boyd Trophy for these operations.
In 1990, 846 NAS took part in the Gulf War. In six weeks the squadron flew a total of 1200 hours in support of Allied ground forces. After the end of hostilities the squadron moved to northern Iraq to assist with humanitarian relief for the Kurds.
In January 1993, 846 NAS was deployed until March aboard the carrier HMS Ark Royal to the Adriatic as part of UN operations in Yugoslavia. Shortly after returning to the UK the squadron was deployed to Northern Ireland to replace 707 NAS to provide support to security forces. It returned to the Balkans to provide air support for Multi-National Division-SW (SFOR), which was then commanded by the British, in Bosnia. This deployment lasted until 2002.
Since 2007, the 10 Sea King HC4/HC3i helicopters of 846 NAS were committed to the Kandahar and Helmand provinces in Afghanistan in support of 3 Commando Brigade Royal Marines.
PREVIOUS AIRCRAFT TYPES
Avenger, Wildcat, Whirlwind, Wessex, Sea King
Atlantic 1944, Normandy 1944, Arctic 1944-45, Norway 1944-45, Falkland Islands 1982, Kuwait 1991
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