Member of 820 Naval Air Squadron returning to RNAS Culdrose after returning from the Carrier Strike Group 21 (CSG21) deployment (Picture: Royal Navy).
CSG21

Families welcome home Royal Navy aviators for Christmas

The personnel, deployed on the Carrier Strike Group 21 mission, arrived back at their Cornwall base on Wednesday.

Member of 820 Naval Air Squadron returning to RNAS Culdrose after returning from the Carrier Strike Group 21 (CSG21) deployment (Picture: Royal Navy).

Families have gathered at RNAS Culdrose, Cornwall, to welcome home Navy aviators deployed on HMS Queen Elizabeth.

More than 200 men and women from 820 Naval Air Squadron have spent nearly seven months on board aircraft carrier as part of the Carrier Strike Group 21 (CSG21) deployment.

About 60 aircrew and engineers from the squadron returned to their air station in Helston on Wednesday, along with their Merlin Mk2 helicopters. Other personnel returned separately.

Commander Ian Varley, Commanding Officer, 820 Naval Air Squadron, said having been away for "more than half a year… it is wonderful to be back".

"Taking part in a deployment like this, in terms of its significant scale and global reach, has been a great opportunity for all my personnel," he said.

Watch: CSG21 –  the story so far.

"It's been a memory-forming deployment as we have lived and worked on the fleet flagship, contributing to the Royal Navy's firm expression that carrier strike is back in business.

"I am deeply honoured to have led the men and women under my command during this historic deployment and I know they will all be looking forward to some well-earned leave with their loved ones over Christmas," he added.

Also taking part in the CSG21 deployment were more than 40 sailors from RNAS Culdrose's 1700 Naval Air Squadron.

The personnel served on the Royal Fleet Auxiliary support ships Fort Victoria, Tidesurge and Tidespring as well as HMS Queen Elizabeth.

Watch: Quad carrier operations on CSG21.

They also provided supporting roles on HMS Defender, Diamond, Richmond and Kent during the deployment. 

The squadron's personnel include aviation officers, aircraft handlers, weapons engineers, air engineers, medics, logistical personnel, and other support personnel.

Lieutenant Commander Maxine Burgess, Commanding Officer of 1700 Naval Air Squadron, said she was "very proud of all those personnel deployed".