New Commanding Officer for 846 Squadron
It was all change at 846 Naval Air Squadron as the outgoing Commanding Officer handed over the reins to the Squadron’s new leader, Commander Richard Harrison MBE Royal Navy.
Commander Harrison, a veteran of Commando Helicopter Force (CHF) operations since 1997, was quick to express his delight in assuming command.
“846 was my first frontline squadron after completing 2 years of flying training. I am hugely proud to have been given the opportunity to lead the men and women of this exceptionally successful aviation unit for which I have great loyalty and affection.”
During his first tour Cdr Harrison deployed to Northern Ireland several times, building up his experience in flying and navigating at low level by night in challenging weather conditions to insert and extract British patrols around South Armagh.
Cdr Harrison added “My first tour on 846 Squadron gave me an excellent foundation in the core skills required of a CHF ‘Junglie’ pilot.”
Cdr Harrison’s subsequent flying career took him to operations in the Balkans, and then following training as a helicopter warfare instructor, he was instrumental in the planning and conduct of the helicopter assault onto the Al Faw peninsula in 2003, which saw the beginning of CHF’s involvement in operations in Iraq until the Force’s eventual withdrawal in 2007.
“I was then lucky enough to come back to 846 Squadron in 2008 and 2009 to assume the role of Executive Officer and Senior Pilot. At the time, 846 Squadron had recently spearheaded CHF’s entry into Afghanistan. Initially we were the sole Commando squadron providing aircraft and personnel to this new theatre of operations and whilst this meant a great deal of time away from home for the people of 846, they took it in their stride, reflecting the great ‘Junglie’ spirit that exists within the Squadron”.
After 2 years of deployments to Afghanistan, Cdr Harrison then undertook a staff tour at the Ministry of Defence in London, responsible for managing capability enhancements to the various marks of Sea King and Merlin helicopters flown by UK forces.
“My appointment as CO 846 NAS is, without doubt, the highlight of my naval career so far. Having started my frontline time here on 846 Squadron 15 years ago, it feels like coming home. I’ve already bumped into many familiar faces around the Squadron building and as a team we will continue to deliver aircraft and trained aircrew and maintainers in support of operations in Afghanistan.”