RNAS Culdrose is located near Helston on the Lizard Peninsula of Cornwall, and is the largest helicopter base in Europe. Culdrose provides Merlin HM.2 anti-submarine helicopters which are deployed on Royal Navy vessels.
RNAS Culdrose Satellite View
Culdrose is also home to the Hawks of 736 NAS which provide a maritime aggressor squadron for simulating missile attacks and fast jet attacks on warships during exercises. It is also home to the Avenger T.1 which is used for Observer Training. The Sea King ASaC.7 airborne early warning helicopters and the ScanEagle unmanned drones are also based here.
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RNAS Culdrose Scanner Frequencies:
Approach - 378.550
Director - 313.600
Zone - 134.050
Radar - 235.125, 241.400, 369.225
PAR - 293.825, 296.675
Tower - 297.775, 127.750
Ground - 318.100
ATIS - 231.850, 233.625
Aircraft & Squadrons
Royal Naval Air Station Culdrose operates the Sea King and Merlin helicopter squadrons which are deployed on Royal Navy vessels and military operations. 824 Naval Air Squadron is a Merlin Operational Conversion Unit (OCU) which trains Pilots, Observers and Aircrewman on the Merlin helicopter. 849 Naval Air Squadron operates the Sea King ASaC.7 which provides Airborne surveillance and control. The Sea King ASaC.7 will remain in service to the end of 2018 when it will be replaced with a Merlin helicopter with radar pods (Crowsnest) to provide Airbourne Early Warning (AEW) for the new Royal Navy Queen Elizabeth Carriers.
736 Naval Air Squadron operate the Hawk T.1 which simulate missile attacks and fast jet attacks on warships in naval exercises. The Hawks are owned by the Royal Air Force and leased to the Royal Navy. 750 Naval Air Squadron operate the Avenger T.1 which provides training for the Fleet Air Arm's observers. 700X Naval Air Squadron are equipped with ScanEagle unmanned aircraft (drones) which can be launched and recovered from a Royal Navy vessel and are used for reconnaissance. It can stay airborne for around 15 to 18 hours at distances upwards of 70 miles from the ship to gather intelligence and survey the wider area of operations.
736 Naval Air Squadron - Hawk T.1.
750 Naval Air Squadron - Avenger T.1.
814 Naval Air Squadron - Merlin HM.2.
820 Naval Air Squadron - Merlin HM.2.
824 Naval Air Squadron OCU - Merlin HM.2.
829 Naval Air Squadron - Merlin HM.2.
849 Naval Air Squadron -
Sea King ASaC.7. (Sea King ASaC.7 retired September 2018.)
700X Naval Air Squadron - ScanEagle.
The Culdrose Air Day
was held here every year but was cancelled in 2017 in order to focus resources on delivering their primary roles; to protect the strategic nuclear deterrent, support counter terrorism and be ready to defend the Royal Navy's carrier task groups.
RNAS Culdrose was built and commissioned as HMS Seahawk in 1947. It was originally designed to be a wartime airfield lasting about ten years. It was to become a Naval Fighting School but soon developed other roles. Initially, Culdrose operated the Firefly, Anson and Sea Fury.
Culdrose was later used for trials of the Navy's first jets, training of airbourne early warning crews with the Skyraider AD-4W and later the Gannet AEW 3, and as a base for carrier based aircraft. In the 1960s, Culdrose operated the Sea Vixen, Sea Venom and Sea Hawk. It was also the main helicopter training base for the Royal Navy with Hillers, Whirlwinds, Dragonflies, and later the Wasp and Wessex helicopters.
In 1970, a rebuilding program began at Culdrose, and in 1972 Culdrose was home to the Royal Naval Observer School and 750NAS (Observer Training Squadron) operating the Sea Prince aircraft. The Sea King helicopter was also based here in the 1970s.
More recently the stations emphasis has changed from fixed wing aircraft to helicopters, although its role has remained largely the same. The airbase puts £100 million into the Cornish economy and is the largest single-site employer in Cornwall. Presently, Culdrose operates the Sea King and Merlin helicopters.