HMS Osprey / RNAS Portland – Dorset

HMS Osprey was one of the Navy’s helicopter airfields. It closed in 1999. Most of the base has been demolished. An HM Coastguard heliport remains, as does the old main building. This contained the control tower, operations room, met office and communications centre. There are plans to turn this building into a hotel.

More info can be found on Wikipedia.

  • Thumbnail of HMS Osprey / RNAS Portland

Inside was completely trashed – nothing much remains. Wires have been stripped and things have been smashed by vandals.

  • Thumbnail of HMS Osprey / RNAS Portland

The main draw to visiting the building was the control tower at the top. The tower would’ve given marvellous views of the base.

  • Thumbnail of HMS Osprey / RNAS Portland
  • Thumbnail of HMS Osprey / RNAS Portland
  • Thumbnail of HMS Osprey / RNAS Portland
  • Thumbnail of HMS Osprey / RNAS Portland

This was the most interesting thing in the building – a map/diagram of the base as it was. You can see the helicopter landing pads, and one of shortest runways in England (229m apparently).

  • Thumbnail of HMS Osprey / RNAS Portland
  • Thumbnail of HMS Osprey / RNAS Portland
  • Thumbnail of HMS Osprey / RNAS Portland
  • Thumbnail of HMS Osprey / RNAS Portland
  • Thumbnail of HMS Osprey / RNAS Portland
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21 Responses to HMS Osprey / RNAS Portland – Dorset

  1. hamilton rice lam a/e l/f/976154 says:

    great times with various mates too many to mention in the Mid Sixties Travellers Rest drink on the slate until payday

  2. a castell says:

    gutted to see the place in such a state. many fantastic memories of portland. days in the simulators, nights down the green shutters, vicky lodge and greasy spoon for mushroom burgers!

  3. Stephen Charles Bethell says:

    Made me smile. I could never get the knack of working the switchboard in thecontrol tower correctly, I know it resulted in a lot of frustrated callers : -)

  4. Jim Shine says:

    As an aviation entheusiast I went to one Navy Air Day at Portland c 1994/6 with my wife and son in a buggy. Always thought it would be a bit small as an airshow but felt I had to make 1 visit to se at th helicopters. It was the best airshow I went to that year, highly enjoyable and I regretted not having been before.

    I think I logged around 40 helicopters parked on th base, in maintenance hangers and in the flying display. Also sea harriers flew by and Navy helicopter and commando demo teams.

    Prince Andrew was visiting and toured the stands and chatted to the Navy personnel and families. I got within 3 feet of him by accident next to some stall. plus there was a couple of RN Gun runs like at the Royal Tournament carrying Boer War guns over ‘brick’walls etc in a race.

    I was astonished how much was packed into such a small space and how diferent and enjoyable the whole day was. I literally felt like someone invited to a [navy] family garden fete albeit with c 50 aircraft!

    Shame the navy base had to close and that it’s now in such a state of disrepair.

    [Basically ] All Navy Helicopters are now [shore] based at Culdrose in Cornwall.

    Best wishes

  5. Steve McClements (Clem) says:

    Spent quite a few hours in the tower training to be a Local Controller.Hated every minute of it,hated the ATC side of being an AC.
    Its still as shame looking at the state its in now….

  6. Richard W. Fyfe says:

    Sorry to see yet another RNAS base go without anything being held for posterity.

    The exception is memories, photos and stories of those who served.

    Well done the NGO’s who attempt to save somthing of our proud heritage when it was a Great Britain…

  7. James ATTENBOROUGH says:

    Gutted to see this place in such a bad state, 87-89 in the airfield sickbay

  8. Bruce Fawcett says:

    I was at Portland from 1971 to 74 and worked in the AED. I could cry seeing all my memories of the Navy being destroyed. One consolation though, I have the lifebelt and stand “CAPTAIN OF THE BASE-PORTLAND which stood outside the captains house. Now sits proudly in my garden.Best wishes to all my old shipmates

  9. Alan Renwick says:

    based in HMS Osprey in the seventies working on FMG,Spent a month in barracks then B&B in Weymouth. As has been said,only memories left now.Happy Days lads and lassies.

  10. Peter Neal says:

    AEW (bombhead) 1979 worked on wasps, very sad to see the base like this, happy memories including B&B weymouth, went back this year and all that remains is the new SAR building, old control tower and faded spots for 737 (Wessex 3), 703 829, difficult to believe how busy the station was looking at it now.

  11. Nick Hoare says:

    LAEM(M) 1983 Worked on Wasps (829) and Wessex 5 (772)
    Had many happy days and nights here (Little Ship, Green Shutters)
    Very sad that it is now gone.

  12. Dave Jones says:

    I served at Osprey for 2 stints from 1966-1968 & 1970-71 as a Met observer. Fond memories. Its a crying shame to see it now.

  13. Ronald Harry Szczecinski says:

    I had a wonderful time when I visited Portland for 6 weeks at BOST in the late 80´s and early 90´s on the FGS “Rheinland-Pfalz” (4 times). I can still remember our shore leaves to HMS “Osprey”, The Green Shutter, Jolly Sailer, Little Ship, Victoria Hotel (Dorset Bikers) and of course The Greasy Spoon. Not to forget the Chinese Food salesman at the Q-Pier. We had a lot of fun together with our friends from the British Navy, drinking beer and playing darts or pool.
    Yours sincerely
    SCPO GN (retired)

  14. colin wyatt says:

    first draft after aircraft handler training at culdrose feb 1976, long hot summer , long walk to airfield from barracks if no bus , even longer going up incline rd,great time many memories .

  15. peter ganley says:

    Had a brill time at Portland, 829 Squad and SE section, happy days. Sad to see the place run down……

  16. Clive Bone says:

    For those who served at Osprey it must be galling to see the dereliction described above. As a civilian who has known Portland as a holidaymaker for some fifty years it is for me too. However, for what it is worth, and only in fiction, the Navy went back to Portland and extended the runway up to the A354 to take STOL aircraft.

    Some fifty helicopters and aircraft were based there – including Harriers taken out of mothballs by the defence cuts. The reason, Portland is to go back in time to avoid asteroids heading for the Earth. The mission is to industrialise the ancient world to have the technology in time to destroy them.

    The Empress of Rome may be read free online on the Harper-Collins authonomy web site at
    The first chapter briefly sets the scene at the airbase. I hope people find this of interest. Portland has been used in fiction before now, and may that continue.

    Clive Bone

  17. Mike Foster says:

    I trained as a TAS underwater control operator in HMS Osprey (TAS School) in 1959 when it was situated above the naval base at East wear. Where can I find history or photo’s of that period. This phase in Osprey’s existance seems to have been completely overlooked.

  18. Terry Robinson says:

    How very sad to see dear Osprey in such a state. I believe it is called ‘progress’. I spent some memorable time with 737 squadron on Advanced Flying Training and then as a staff pilot for Wessex Mk3. I also contracted hepatitis there (in the days before “A” to “C”, it was just ‘hepatitis’!!). Fond memories nevertheless abound.

  19. robin h ( Slinger) Wood says:

    I left HMS Eagle 1959 after 2 years and drafted to PHU HMS Osprey I was a REM(A) RNFAA…We we were a mixed bunch of men, Seamen, Stewards, Comms ETC and all were messed together in East Weare inside the hill in Nisson Huts overlooking the main camp which was reached by walking down a hundred or so steps to the main gate and into the camp.. On reporting to the Radio Workshop Peter ???? and me were met by the Chief who said “You 2 can F…. off…So for the 1st couple of weeks we threw stones into the sea and loafed about, the Chief was our Chief in HMAS Eagle and we had had a run in with him and I spent 18 months in theAircraft battery charging room! best job I had in my 7 years in the FAA….To be contd. Slinger…

  20. robin h ( Slinger) Wood says:

    As above I joined PHU HMS Osprey July 1959 and had 2 years to serve….I did a lot of misemplyment which meant I was available for anyone in athority to make use of my services? Here are some of the jobs I did, in no particular order…Workd on 737 Squd, on Westland Whirlwind MK 7 Choppers doing modifications (I used to do all the Mods, in HMS Eagle on aircrat radio sets.)…Sent to the store as “Dockyard Horse” as I walked in a Killick and 2 hands walked out and I had to replace them? The killick answer to why he “You are a big lad you can handle it!!!” This turned to be an excellent job as I had a civvy and a truck to work with and we went all over collecting stores ranging from nuts and bolts to me organising a crane to collect 3 Helicopter blades and then sitting on them to balance them to get to the Heliport? The driver who liked a drink, and we often went to Wyke Regis club during some of our trips for a liquid lunch… To be contd…Slinger….

  21. Andy myatt says:

    Wow how sad. I was part of ground radio, so spent all my working day in the tower, and on the top floor in the radio workshop, from 1979 to 1988 between drafts.
    Busy airport in those days, still nothing lasts forever.
    Shame, pity not much Is left.

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