60 years of SAR
This is a particularly special year for Royal Navy helicopter search and rescue, which celebrates 60 years of saving lives at sea and on land in 2013.
To help celebrate the launch of the Boat Show and the service’s own special anniversary, a Royal Navy search and rescue Sea King took to the skies beside ExCeL at 2pm on Saturday January 12 to give visitors a flavour of what being rescued is like. A four-man crew from 771 Naval Air Squadron in Cornwall manoeuvred the 9.5 tonne helicopter with precision to make a simulated rescue from the dock.
It was an astonishing spectacle, which gave young and older a tiny taste of the expertise and skills employed by these men and women in whatever conditions are thrown at them. The helicopter returned on Sunday January 13 for a further demonstration at 11.30am, before returning to its Cornish base.
In 1953, the introduction of the Westland Dragonfly helicopter to search and rescue opened a new chapter in civilian and military aid to those in peril. Just shortly after coming into service, 12 Dragonfly helicopters from 705 Naval Air Squadron based at Royal Naval Air Station (RNAS) Gosport responded to urgent requests for help following extensive flooding in East Anglia and The Netherlands. In the course of seven hours’ flying, more than 840 people were rescued – one single pilot accounted for 111 of those rescues, while another carried out 102.
Thus was born Royal Navy helicopter search and rescue which, in 2013, celebrates its 60th anniversary of saving lives. A diamond landmark for the men and women who have saved tens of thousands of lives in the intervening six decades.