The Royal Australian Navy’s last six Westland Sea Kings were this week removed from storage at HMAS Albatross, Nowra, NSW, and transported to Port Kembla for export to the UK where they will be broken up for parts by Aerospace Logistics (ASL).
Sea King transport. Photo courtesy Royal Australian Navy
The Sea Kings were withdrawn from RAN service in December 2011 and replaced by the MRH-90 helicopters. The Sea King was considered the workhorse of the RAN for over 36 years, logging more than 60,000 flying hours in 817 Squadron.
The type played a key role in RAN’s contribution to disaster relief and humanitarian assistance in Australia and overseas, with domestic missions including firefighting in the Sydney fires of 1994, one of the largest fire-fighting efforts in the country’s history; rescue missions at sea, including the 1998 Sydney to Hobart Yacht Race; and one of its last missions rescuing people from the Queensland floods of 2010/2011.
The Sea King fuselages were wrapped in heat-shrink plastic to protect them and transported on low-load trailers. ASL provides specialist services in the supply, refurbishment, exchange, repair, maintenance and overhaul of aircraft parts. The Sea King inventory will be used to support capability of international military and search and rescue fleets.
A seventh Sea King is being preserved at the Fleet Air Arm Museum in Nowra. The helicopter, Shark 07, was selected as it has the most operational history in the fleet, having served in the Middle East and East Timor.
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