NEW COMMANDING OFFICER FOR SEA KING SQUADRON
It is all change at the top for “The eyes of the Fleet” - 849 Naval Air Squadron as Lieutenant Commander Chris Hughes takes over from Commander Roger Kennedy as the new Commanding Officer of the Royal Navy's Airborne Surveillance and Control (ASaC) squadron.
849 NAS are the only remaining operators of the venerable Sea King aircraft, flying from Royal Naval Air Station Culdrose in between operational tours worldwide. Their Sea King Mk7s carry the Searchwater 2000 multi-mode radar and Cerberus mission system, enabling them to conduct wide-area surveillance of land, sea and air. The Squadron continues to maintain the Airborne Surveillance and Control capability for the Royal Navy until the arrival of the 'Crowsnest'-equipped Merlin HM.2 in 2018.
Commander Kennedy said: “It has been an honour and privilege to command the squadron through a period of high demand, in which our fantastic availability has been achieved because of the perseverance and mutual support of all members of the team.”
In an address to the squadron, and picking up on the theme of operational delivery built on teamwork Lieutenant Commander Hughes said: “We have an incredibly exciting future ahead of us with the planned arrival of the Crowsnest surveillance system in the Merlin helicopter. You guys have done an awesome job to get us to this point and I intend that we will continue in this vein. I am well aware that for all the tricks of new technology, it is still people that deliver safe flying and high quality timely information. I really look forward to our time together, I know that we will continue to be in demand and will meet all challenges that come our way. I also look forward to seeing us develop as individuals, both in professional qualifications and in leadership through adventure training.”
A very experienced ASaC aviator with multiple tours under his belt, Chris Hughes has also served in Naval Command Headquarters, with international battle staffs, with one of the US Carrier Strike Group and on operations in the Middle East. Married to Clare, Chris lives in Helston and when not working he can be found on one of the many excellent Cornish beaches practicing his hobbies of kite and board surfing.