Culdrose front line squadron leads Helston parade
Naval personnel from one of Royal Naval Air Station Culdrose’s frontline Sea King squadrons who have recently returned from operations will lead this year's Freedom of Helston parade.
857 Naval Air Squadron will take pride of place at the head of the marching platoons from the Fleet Air Arm’s West Cornwall Base, after completing a gruelling 26 month deployment to HelmandProvincein Afghanistan. They return after completing over 3,000 flying hours and over 800 front-line missions from Camp Bastion, the main operating Base for British Forces in the country.
Lieutenant Commander James Hall, 857 NAS Commanding Officer is proud of his Squadron’s achievements in Afghanistan and the unique honour of being able to march together on Freedom of Helston Day. "As the Commanding Officer of the Squadron this is a great privilege to the Mayor of Helston to recognise the immense effort that has been given by members of 857 Naval Air Squadron and the supporting role to those operations by many other units at RNAS Culdrose. It will be a very proud moment to lead my sailors through the streets of the town that a lot of us call Home. This is a very special day for those personnel that are still with 857 NAS and those who have moved onto new assignments in their careers. We must also not forget the essential role played by our families during this long period of operations in Afghanistan and it is fantastic that the Squadron will parade in front of their families in Helston."
The Fleet Air Arm operates three Sea King Mk 7 Airborne Surveillance and Control Helicopter Squadrons: 849, 854 and 857 NAS all based at Culdrose. They are known throughout the Navy as 'Baggers', and are the eye in the sky for the Navy, searching out threats to the Fleet or ground support operations over land. Their distinctive nickname owes itself to the large sack or bag on the side of each aircraft, which houses the cutting-edge Searchwater 2000, capable of remarkable accurate detection of surface and air targets.
857 NAS will now take up their more traditional role of working with the Royal Navy Fleet on Maritime Operations after their long tour of duty in Afghanistan. They handed over to their sister Squadron, 854 NAS in May who have now deployed to the hot desert environment ofHelmand. In these challenging working conditions the ground crews can expected to be working in temperatures of 55°C at the height of summer, while 8,000ft above the Hindu Kushit can be as cold as -15°C for the aircrew.
The Annual Freedom of Helston Parade will take place on Wednesday 11 June; stepping off at 1050, marching down Coinagehall Street where the Mayor of Helston will take the salute at 1100.