846 Naval Air Squadron

846 Naval Air Squadron is a squadron of the Royal Navy's Fleet Air Arm.

846 Naval Air Squadron
30 September 2014–present
Country United Kingdom
Branch Royal Navy
TypeLand based and amphibious squadron
RoleCommando Air Support
Part ofCommando Helicopter Force
Garrison/HQRNAS Yeovilton
Motto(s)Semper Instans (Latin:"Always Threatening")
EquipmentAgustaWestland Merlin HC.3
Battle honoursAtlantic 1944
Arctic 1944–1945
Norway 1944–1945
Normandy 1944–1945
Falklands 1982

Between December 1979 and the summer of 2013, 846 Naval Air Squadron operated the Westland Sea King HC4 helicopter to provide troop transport and load lifting support to 3 Commando Brigade Royal Marines. Based at RNAS Yeovilton in Somerset, 846 NAS stood down in the summer of 2013 and its personnel, buildings and equipment were absorbed into 845 Naval Air Squadron.

The squadron stood up on 30 September 2014 with the AgustaWestland Merlin HC.3 and it now holds the Maritime Counter Terrorism Role[2]


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.[3]


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.

Falklands War

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.[4]

Gulf War

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.

Yugoslav Wars

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.[5] 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.[6][7]


Since 2007, the 10 Sea King HC4+ helicopters of 846 NAS were committed to the Kandahar and Helmand provinces in Afghanistan in support of 3 Commando Brigade Royal Marines.[8]

Present day

846 NAS re-equipped with the AgustaWestland Merlin HC.3 on 30 September 2014 at RAF Benson.[9] The squadron moved back to its usual home of RNAS Yeovilton in March 2015. As of 12 March 2019 846 NAS had received the first of its Merlin HC.4 helicopters, marking another major step in the transition from Royal Air Force to Royal Navy dominance in the Commando warfare role.[10]



Aircraft operated

The squadron operated a variety of different aircraft and versions:[12]



  1. "846 NAS at the Fleet Air Arm Archive". Archived from the original on 19 June 2010. Retrieved 1 February 2010.
  2. http://www.westernmorningnews.co.uk/training-recruits-air-crew-ready-tackle-terrorism/story-25772049-detail/story.html%5B%5D
  3. "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 19 June 2010. Retrieved 18 April 2010.CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  4. "Boyd Trophy for 846 Sqn". Air Pictorial. 47 (8): 288. August 1985.
  5. "House of Commons – Hansard Debates for 15 Apr 1993". Parliamentary Debates (Hansard). House of Commons. 15 April 1993. col. 718.
  6. Webpage
  7. "Air Support Changes to MND-SW". nato.int. 18 July 2002.
  8. "Royal Navy Sea Kings – Flying Over Afghanistan for Two Years". Retrieved 1 February 2010.
  9. "Royal Air Force hand over Merlin to Royal Navy". Royal Navy. Retrieved 1 October 2014.
  10. "846. Eskadra wróciła do Yeovilton". Konflikty.pl. Retrieved 28 March 2015.
  11. Affiliations
  12. Sturtivant, Ballance 1994, p. 267.


  • 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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