857 NAS Change of Command in Afghanistan
The Royal Navy’s Airborne Surveillance and Control Squadron (ASaC) in Afghanistan has a new Commanding Officer. Lieutenant Commander Geoff Hayward has handed over to Lieutenant Commander Mark Gill after 26 months in Command of 857 Naval Air Squadron (NAS); one of the Navy’s two frontline ASaC units.
Lt Cdr Hayward has presided over a busy period for 857 NAS, taking over command whilst the Squadron was deployed to Afghanistan in 2010. He steered the squadron during the humanitarian rescue mission in Libya embarked on HMS Ocean during 2011 before returning to Afghanistan in 2012. Lt Cdr Hayward said:
“857 NAS have, during my time in Command, continued to demonstrate the flexibility inherent in the SKASaC Mk7 capability. 857 NAS' broad range of operations has been conducted with a very small team which has seen mission achievement rates exceed 95% in Libya and in Afghanistan. It has been my privilege to have been in Command of the squadron in its range of activities over the past 26 months."
The new CO, ‘Sparky’ Gill, said:
“It is a great privilege to take command whilst 857 NAS is deployed and achieving so much on operations. It is particularly good to see the progress that has been made since I left Afghanistan in June 2010.”
857 NAS are the incumbent Op Herrick ASaC Squadron; one of which has been deployed permanently since May 2009. 857 took over from their sister Squadron, 854 NAS, in March. Based at Camp Bastion in Helmand province, the ‘Baggers’ are flying in support of Task Force Helmand.