HMS Queen Elizabeth achieves another first by embarking air squadron

Royal Navy aircraft carrier HMS Queen Elizabeth embarked 820 Naval Air Squadron (NAS) on February 5 in what is the first time that any squadron has embarked the ship.

The Merlin Mk 2 helicopters of 820 NAS have been working with the ship since she sailed for the first time from Rosyth in June last year.

Until today however, the Squadron’s aircraft, equipment and personnel have been based ashore and simply flown on and off the ship.

Whilst it is normal for 820 NAS to be operating from sea (having done so from HMS Ocean for seven out of the previous 12 months), it will be a new experience for HMS Queen Elizabeth to have a whole squadron on board.

For the duration of the embarkation, 820 NAS will be using their Merlin helicopters to provide the carrier with aviation assets to train and to test their equipment with.

The Mk2 Merlin helicopters are also fully capable of providing search and rescue cover 24 hours a day from the ship.

The squadron’s senior pilot, Lt Cdr Steve Moseley, was very much looking forward to embarking: “For us as maritime helicopter pilots, it has been an amazing experience being the first to work with our new aircraft carrier from the beginning.

“We all joined the Fleet Air Arm to operate aircraft at sea, and to be the first to do it on-board HMS Queen Elizabeth is very exciting.”