814 Naval Air Squadron, The Royal Navy Flying Tigers, are an Anti Submarine Warfare Squadron of the Fleet Air Arm. They fly the incredibly versatile Merlin Mk 2 and are a cornerstone of British Defence not only protecting British waters at home and British interests abroad but are an instrumental tool in the armoury of policy makers. Crews are trained in a host of disciplines from Anti Submarine, Anti Surface, Counter Narcotics, Counter Piracy, Trooping, Medevac, Special Forces Support through to Maritime Counter Terrorism, Vertical Replenishment at sea and Search and Rescue. The Tactical Observers enable the aircraft to be flown in any weather conditions by providing radar coverage and the Tactical Aircrewmen are able to find and track submarines utilising both passive and active sonar systems.
The Royal Navy Flying Tigers were first formed in December 1938 as a Torpedo Reconnaissance Squadron equipped with 6 Swordfish aircraft. After the outbreak of war in 1939, 814 NAS embarked in HMS Ark Royal and subsequently HMS Hermes, searching for German battleships and carrying our convoy protection duties. In July 1944 the Squadron changed aircraft and with Barracudas embarked in HMS Venerable for Far East patrols.
In the post war years the Squadron was successfully equipped with anti-submarine variants of the Firefly, Avenger and Gannet aircraft and began to focus on ASW training and tactics. 1960 saw the Squadron equipped with its first helicopter, the Whirlwind, to be later replaced with the Wessex helicopter, fitted for the first time with a radar and active sonar.
The mighty Sea King helicopter was introduced to 814 during the 1970s, providing an airborne passive sonar capability never seen before in the Royal Navy. The Sea King remained in service until 2001, during which time 814 served onboard both HMS Illustrious for South Atlantic patrols and onboard HMS Invincible during the Gulf, Bosnia and Kosovo conflicts.
814 NAS trained on the Merlin Mk 1 in 2001 and subsequently the upgraded Merlin Mk 2 was introduced during 2013. This highly effective, multi-role platform is the very latest in ASW technology and is the most comprehensively equipped ASW helicopter in the World today. With the Merlin, 814 Naval Air Squadron will remain at the forefront of ASW operations well into the twenty-first century. During an average year, 75% of the sorties flown on 814 are on live operations. Recently, crews conducted humanitarian missions in the fight against Ebola in Africa, Search and Rescue for migrants crossing the Medeiros, VIP contingency security operations for HM Queen Elizabeth and the Prime Minister, Counter Piracy and People Smuggling in the Middle East as well as protecting and supporting British submarines across the globe.