2017 promises to be a very important, and busy, year for Royal Naval Air Station Culdrose. 80% of the Air Station’s front line aircraft and personnel are already serving on operations or at very high readiness to deploy all around the world. Delivering this high operational tempo, protecting Royal Navy ships and submarines above, on and below the waves, takes much training, planning and effort – but life at the Helston based Air Station is going to get even busier.
This year will see a new era of ‘Carrier Aviation’ when HMS Queen Elizabeth, the first of the Nation’s two new aircraft carriers, sails into Portsmouth. RNAS Culdrose has a vital part to play on board this new flagship, and personnel need to be ‘carrier ready’ for this significant event. Therefore due to this focus, and existing operational commitments, RNAS Culdrose will not hold an Air Day in 2017.
The Commanding Officer of Culdrose, Captain Dan Stembridge ADC said: “We have had to make the regrettable decision to not hold an Air Day this year in order to focus our resources on delivering our primary roles; to protect the Strategic Nuclear Deterrent, support Counter Terrorism and be ready to defend the Royal Navy’s Carrier Task Groups.”
“HMS Queen Elizabeth, the Nation’s new flagship, will sail into Portsmouth Harbour this year. The carriers are the most powerful ships ever built by the UK and will have a lifespan of 50 years. They will be capable of high intensity war-fighting and global counter terrorism, through to defence engagement, disaster relief and humanitarian aid. It is essential that RNAS Culdrose is fully prepared to support the aircraft carriers when they deploy with trained personnel and aircraft. Indeed one of my squadrons will provide the very first aircraft to land on her deck. This significant milestone will be a proud moment in history for Culdrose, Helston and the County of Cornwall.”
“This new focus comes as many of my personnel and aircraft are already deployed protecting the nation’s interests worldwide. Indeed 80% of my front line personnel are currently on operations or at very high readiness to deploy.”
“Culdrose remains one of the largest single site employers in Cornwall and has a very bright future. Our unique relationship with the people of Cornwall is hugely important to us, and provides essential support to our families during periods of separation. The Air Day decision has involved much deliberation and we appreciate that many will be disappointed, however operations must come first. There is a lot of work to be done to deliver air power from our nation’s new carriers; and we must be ready.”
RNAS Culdrose Air Day is one of three military Air Shows still delivered in the UK, the others being held at RAF Cosford and our sister Air Station RNAS Yeovilton. Yeovilton Air Day will be held on the 8th July 2017. In future years, one possibility is to combine the Yeovilton and Culdrose Air Days to create one South West Fleet Air Arm event.