Farewell to the Sea King

In the picture: A Sea King AEW 2 Helicopter of 849 Squadron based at RNAS Culdrose in Cornwall banks before rejoining HMS Illustrious. (Image available through MOD Consent Licence and the OGL).

Two Sea King military helicopters completed their final farewell flypast on the 19th September 2018, after nearly 50 years of service. The helicopters took off from RNAS Culdrose before flying a route across Devon and Cornwall.

Their airborne surveillance and control role will be taken over by the new Merlin Crowsnest which arrives at Culdrose next year and will operate from new carriers HMS Queen Elizabeth and Prince of Wales from 2020 onwards.

The Sea King Mark 7 helicopters saw action in the Falklands, Afghanistan and both Gulf Wars. In recent years they played a vital role both in Afghanistan and as part of the Royal Navy’s anti-drug operations in South America.

The Sea Kings – known as “Baggers” in the Royal Navy – acted as “eyes in the sky” during operations. Their nickname came from the distinctive inflatable black bag on the side of each helicopter which housed their radar systems.

The helicopters face one final flight – from Culdrose to HMS Sultan in Gosport, where they will await disposal – next week.


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