Fighter All Weather (FAW) of the Fleet Air Arm.

892 and 893 Squadrons to HMS Ark Royal March 1960 to February1961

HMS Ark Royal Third Commission

  • December 1959 to March 1961 (Jan 60 to Feb 61 at sea)
  • Capt P J Hill Norton RN in Command
  • Last Commission paid off in summer of 1958
  • 16 month refit in Devonport Dockyard in order to be able to accept the next generation of aircraft completed by Christmas 1959.
  • 5 weeks of sea trials and finally 3rd March 1960 embarked squadrons
  • 892 Sqn under the command of Lt Cdr (F) D M A H (Shorty) Hamilton RN.
  • Stopover at Gibraltar
  • Flyex 2 days Palermo 10 days SMP Malta (Spring and Easter 1960)
  • 3rd work up and ORI and Army support exercise off Cyprus
  • 4 days Naples
  • End April 1960 dock at Gibraltar due cracked propeller and damaged rudder with half of aircraft disembarked in Malta. Within 2 weeks, 2 new propellers plus rudder repaired
  • Barcelona shop window/Adex with US Sixth fleet/4 days in Toulon
  • 2 Adex/one with French off Bizerta (Tunisia) and one with USS Saratoga
  • Fri 3rd June 1960 Barcelona shopwindow. Witnessed by 130 Spanish VIPs
  • Barcelona 5 days
  • Adex US 6th Fleet
  • Mon June 20th at 1420 enter Gibraltar for 2 weeks
  • Intensive Flyex eastern Mediterranean one month. After 10 days 670 day sorties and 70 night achieved.
  • Army Support exercise off Cyprus. 2 days Limassol
  • Private Flyex and then Athens
  • Malta end July 1960
  • HMS Hermes arrives for workup ex refit with her squadrons 1 day later
  • Sail Malta 9th August 1960 private Flyex one week
  • HMS Ark Royal and HMS Hermes exercise with USN 6th fleet
  • Palma short break (rv with HMS Hermes and both carriers high speed passage to UK)
  • English Channel then to Moray Firth off Lossiemouth and 5th Sept Rosyth 10 days SMP
  • "Major NATO autumn exercise preparations all over Europe. Politicians and statesmen gathered at UNO for final authorisation. An exercise which assumed that a major nuclear war was starting. It was thought that the Russians may stage an incident. Cool heads prevailed and the exercise was authorised." From Commissioning Book.
  • HMS Ark Royal and HMS Hermes exercised together in EX SWORDTHRUST 15th September 1960 for one week
  • 17th September 1960. Sea Vixen Lost at night. Both Crew Killed. ID1.
  • Quote from Commissioning book..."A sad loss to us but a reminder also of the hazards and of the high standards continuously required."
  • One day 75 fixed wing sorties achieved
  • One day 75 fixed wing sorties achieved
  • Squadrons disembarked off the Shetlands to home bases
  • Ex completion stopped at Greenock. Leave to ships company
  • October 1960. 892 Sqn mother ship now HMS Victorious
  • Wed Oct 26th 1960. A wet day Squadrons embark. (No Sea Vixens) Family‚Äôs day witnessed.
  • Passage Gibraltar for 2 days and then to Malta.
  • Anchor Marsaxlokk and rv with HMS VICTORIOUS (half way through her work up) in Bighi bay
  • 10 days in Bighi Bay
  • 15 Nov. 19 days Buccaneer Sea Trials
  • 893 embark HMS Ark Royal end of November 1960. Under command of Lt. Cdr F. D. Stanley RN
  • Ex Royal Flush 2. Adex with US 6th Fleet with HMS Hermes and HMS Victorious
  • The 3 carriers return to Malta in bad weather
  • HMS Hermes departs for the far east station and HMS Victorious remains with HMS Ark Royal for last of 3 army support exercises ex Pink Gin 5th to 7th December 1960. Cyrenaica and Tripoli areas
  • RV with HMS Albion in company with HMS Victorious returning from far east station and 15 frigates and destroyers of NATO for major exercise in the Sicilian narrows with submarines and the RAF Vulcan V force opposing the 3 carrier passage
  • Completed exercise Sat 10th December and fast passage to Gibraltar. 70 knot storm in gulf of Lions 11th December 1960h. Some damage and HMS Victorious has damaged rudder. Repairs by divers in lee of Balearics
  • Arrive GIB 1400 on 18th Dec 1960. Admiral's inspection. HMS Victorious at anchor in Algeciras Bay
  • Sailed 0900 15th Dec 1960 and RV with HMS Victorious. Both carriers operate together flying/firing in Gibraltar areas for Admiral Sir Casper John
  • On completion set 20kts for Malta arrived morning 19th Dec. 10 day SMP
  • 893 Disembark to RNAS Halfar for night flying Recency Christmas 1960 in Malta with some 70 families flying out from UK
  • 6th Jan 61 0900 sail. Storm damage repaired and ship painted. Embark Squadrons
  • The last long haul before returning home. 2 months at sea with 2 breaks of 4 days ahead.
  • Flyex and exercising in Malta areas and night qualifications for 893 Sqn.
  • "On the first night out we were shocked back into shape". From Commissioning Book. 6th January 1960. Sea Vixen Lost at night. Both crew killed. ID 2. "We searched all night, but the sea had taken its toll"
  • 14th Jan set sail to exit the med with no stop at Gibraltar. Destination Lisbon.
  • Embarked one Vixen from RNAS Yeovilton for HMS Victorious off Lisbon
  • Enter Lisbon. Left on the Tuesday.
  • Atlantic crossing. No flying due weather to Davis Strait and cold weather operations 7 degrees F
  • Loose ice/sea smoke/ice bergs. Day and Night flying exercises -10 to -15 degrees c
  • Feb 9th 1961 turned south for New York
  • Exercised with Canadian Navy and Canadian Air Force
  • 2 days in Block Island sound waiting for a berth and visit NEW YORK
  • Atlantic Passage to Devonport flying the paying off pennant February 1961.


In the fifteen months since the ship commissioned, including the first 5 weeks in Devonport Dockyard.

HMS Ark Royal spent 252 days at sea and 203 in harbour.

This is 55% at sea compared with 41% for the previous commission.

The Squadrons have flown over 9000 sorties, 450 of which were at night.

The Catapults have launched 1100 Sea Vixens, 2400 Scimitars, 400 Gannets and over 4000 helicopter sorties have been flown.

Total distance steamed 80000 nm's (3 times around the word)

Sea Vixen Accidents

Two fatal Accidents

892 Sqn. Pilot and Observer lost. Night Deck Operations

893 Sqn. Pilot and Observer lost. Night Deck Operations

Gun Salute. HMS Ark Royal enters French Navy Base Toulon. May 1960.
Exercise Swordthrust. Aircraft ranged on deck.
Cold Weather Ops. Davis Strait.
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