737 Naval Air Squadron

737 Naval Air Squadron was a squadron of the Fleet Air Arm which operated Westland Wessex HAS.3 rescue helicopters from their land base at RNAS Portland, Dorset.[2]

737 Naval Air Squadron
An operational Fleet Air Arm Westland Wessex HAS.1 of 737 Squadron NAS at RNAS Yeovilton in 1966. The PO code indicates the squadron base at RNAS Portland, Dorset.
Disbanded4 February 1983
CountryUnited Kingdom
BranchRoyal Navy
TypeNaval Air Squadron
RoleAnti-Submarine Warfare
Part ofFleet Air Arm
Garrison/HQRNAS Portland
Battle honoursFalkland Islands 1982

Second World War

The squadron was formed on 22 February 1943.

Post war

The squadron reformed on 30 March 1949.

Helicopter-only squadron

From 28 August 1959 the squadron only used helicopters.

737 NAS was assigned to operate from Helicopter Support Ship RFA Engadine and later, from the flight decks of the eight County Class guided missile destroyers, including HMS Glamorgan (D19), HMS Antrim (D18) and HMS Norfolk (D21). 737 Squadron supported flights on these destroyers in addition to providing aircrew training at RNAS Portland.

In their ship-borne, anti-submarine role, the HAS.3s could carry two Mark 44 torpedoes or Mark 46 torpedoes (with parachutes) or four Mk.11 Depth Charges in addition to their Plessey dipping Sonar. They could also be fitted with a door-mounted Machine gun and act as a self-contained unit, handling all operations of Anti-submarine warfare(ASW).

Throughout the late 1970s most of the Wessex HAS.3 helicopters at RNAS Portland were being replaced by Westland Sea Kings, which could carry more torpedoes or depth charges and had the security of twin engines, with greatly extended endurance.

Falklands War

A few HAS.3s, remained in service until after the Falklands War period in 1982. One of these, XP142, was seriously damaged near San Carlos Water, was replaced by XM328, on HMS Antrim, in November 1982. XM328 then sailed with HMS Antrim (D18) on her second deployment to the South Atlantic. HMS Antrim was the Flagship of Operation Paraquet, the recovery of South Georgia in April 1982. Her helicopter, the Westland Wessex HAS.3 XP142, nicknamed "Humphrey", was responsible for the remarkable rescue of 16 SAS men from Fortuna Glacier and the subsequent detection and disabling of the Argentinian submarine Santa Fe. Another HAS.3, XM837, was lost in June 1982 when an Exocet missile hit the hangar on the destroyer HMS Glamorgan (D19).


XM328 was transferred to 772 Naval Air Squadron when 737 Squadron disbanded on 4 February 1983.

Aircraft flown

The squadron operated a variety of different aircraft and versions:[1]




  • Sturtivant, R; Ballance, T (1994). The Squadrons of The Fleet Air Arm. Tonbridge, Kent, UK: Air-Britain (Historians) Ltd. ISBN 0-85130-223-8.

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