Motto: - 'Accipe hoc - Take that'

Role: - Commando Helicopter Force Aircrew, Groundcrew and Support Personnel Training

Base: - RNAS Yeovilton


848 Naval Air Squadron was first established in 1943 equipped with Avenger aircraft, but was disbanded after the war. In October 1952, the Squadron was re-commisioned with the new Whirwind helicopter for anti-terrorist protection duties in Malaya, becoming the first operational Royal Navy Whirlwind Squadron. It was disbanded in 1956. The Squadron re-formed in 1958 and saw service in Kuwait in 1961 before being re-equipped with Wessex HU5 helicopters.

When the Falkland Islands were invaded in 1982, the Squadron was quickly reformed but after the campaign it was again disbanded.

Recommissioned in 1991 with Sea King Mk 4 aircraft to bolster the Commando Helicopter Force during the Gulf War, it was disbanded on its return but reformed in 1995 to undertake its current operational training and RM support role. 848 NAS is one of four Fleet Air Arm helicopter Squadrons that form the Commando Helicopter Force (CHF). CHF is a combined Royal Navy / Royal Marine force that fly Sea King and Lynx helicopters, which specialize in amphibious warfare.

Second World War

The squadron was officially formed in June 1943 as a torpedo bomber, reconnaissance, Avenger squadron at Quonset Point Naval Air Station, and subsequently embarked on HMS Trumpeter in October 1943, for the UK.

Assigned to HMS Formidable between 1944 and 1945, 848 Squadron provided air support for the invasion of Okinawa (Operation Iceberg).

Whirlwind years

The squadron reformed at RNAS Gosport (HMS Siskin) on 29 October 1952 with American-built Westland Whirlwind HAS.21s for work in Malaya. 848 Squadron 26 whirlwind MK 7 aircraft joined HMS Bulwark in early 1960 and deployed to the Far East for two and a half years - when the ship was in Singapore the squadron detached to the shore base HMS Sinbang RNAS Sembawang (HQ of the 3rd Commando Brigade & 42 Commando RM). In December 1962 848 returned on HMS Bulwark to Plymouth and detached to its new home HMS Seahawk RNAS Culdrose

Wessex and Wasp years

848 reformed at RNAS Culdrose on 7 May 1964 with 18 Westland Wessexes. Between August 1967 and April 1973 these were joined by Westland Wasp HAS.1's.

During its 69-year history, 848 Squadron had been disbanded and reformed several times but had a more permanent standing, having been made the Commando Helicopter Training Squadron, based at RNAS Yeovilton.

Part of this Squadron was taken to form 847 NAS during Operation Corporate to retake the Falkland Islands 1982. The Squadron operated Westland Wessex HU.5 aircraft at this time.

Sea King years

As the gulf crisis loomed, 848 Squadron was recalled, reforming with the Sea King HC4 on 16 November 1990 and went on to serve in Operations Desert Shield and Desert Storm. After the conflict it returned to the UK and was disbanded again on 19 April 1991.

The Squadron restarted again in March 1995 took the role from 707 NAS which was responsible for the training of aircrew and maintainers in the Commando role.

With a complement of one hundred ratings and thirty officers, the Squadron was responsible for the instruction of up to sixty pilots and aircrewmen each year. Operating the Westland Sea King HC.4, pilots undertook Advanced Flying Training - how to handle emergencies and how to fly with sole reference to instruments - before crewing up with the aircrewmen, Ratings taken from the Royal Navy Royal Marines, to learn how to operate the aircraft in a tactical environment during operational flying training.

The Squadron also trained more than one hundred and fifty helicopter maintainers annually before sending them to the front line. Aircrew and maintainers received military and amphibious training and were taught how to operate in the field and from the deck of a ship.

848 NAS disbanded in 2013. It reformed on 1 May 2015 as an operational Sea King HC.4 squadron; this was to allow 845 NAS to convert to the Merlin without a loss of operational capability.

It was decommissioned on 24 March 2016.


Avenger, Swordfish, Whirlwind, Wasp, Wessex, Sea King


Normandy 1944, Okinawa 1945, Japan 1945, Falklands 1982, Kuwait 1991

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This webpage was updated 11th June 2021