Tag Archives: SH-3 sea king

Schneller Adler, Guest Starring the Kings!

Last week some 200 German marines from the Seebataillon were on maneuvers for a major non-combatant evacuation exercise, Schneller Adler, or Swift Eagle. Together with the Dutch Corps Mariniers, Feldjäger, and an electronic warfare specialist team, they operated from aboard the Dutch Navy dock landing ship Rotterdam (L800). At the same time, the German and Dutch armies trained on land, supported by the Luftwaffe.

Bundeswehr/Nico Theska

In all, a total of around 2,000 soldiers and other participants took part in the regular exercise this year.

Of note to observers on this side of the pond is a familiar old girl in the form of SH-3 Sea Kings on deck and still in front line service.

Bundeswehr/Nico Theska

Bundeswehr/Nico Theska

Bundeswehr/Nico Theska

The German Navy’s Marinefliegerkommando unoffically traces it origins to the old Kaiserliche Marine’s Zeppelins and rascals like Kapitän Gunther Plüschow. More officially, they date to 1956 when West Germany’s Bundesmarine Federal Navy was founded. During the Cold War, the Marineflieger consisted of not only P-3 Orions and two whole wings of anti-ship capable Tornado strike aircraft, but a sea-going force of Sea Lynx and Sea Kings.

The old West German Navy had no less than 112 Tornado IDS models for anti-shipping and marine reconnaissance roles, carrying AS.34 Kormoran anti-ship missiles. Here one is seen at NAS Fallon at 1989.

Built on license from Sikorsky by Westland in the UK, Germany ordered 22 Mk 41 Sea Kings with an enlarged cabin arrangement similar to the Westland HC4 Commando in 1969 to replace Grumman HU-16 Albatross flying boats in a SAR/transport role. Lacking ASW gear or the capability to drop torpedos, they were later fitted with a Ferranti Seaspray radar in a nose radome (which they still have) to aid them in carrying up to four British Sea Skua AShMs (which have since been retired).

Bundeswehr/Nico Theska

These days, 19 German Kings are left, flying operationally for Marinefliegergeschwader 5 out of Nordholz. Showing their age, they are set to be replaced by 18 NHI NH90 Sea Lions within the coming decade.

Besides the Germans, Egypt, India, Norway, and Pakistan still fly the old bird, an aircraft that ended production in 1995.

Speaking of which, India just test-fired a new helicopter-launched anti-ship missile from a Sea King this week. The missile is known as the “Naval Anti-Ship Missile-Short Range” or NASM-SR.

Go, Kings!

So long Canuck Sea Kings

The Sikorsky S-61, best known as the iconic SH-3 Sea King, first flew on 11 March 1959. Besides its use as the U.S. Navy’s standard SAR and ASW helicopter until it was finally replaced by the SH60/MH-60 (although the Marines of HMX-1 still use it for Marine One duties), at least 15 countries flew the big Sea King. The Royal Navy finally put the bird to pasture in 2015, leaving Canada as one of the last front-line operators.

The Canadians picked up 41 early SH-3s in 1963 as kits assembled by United Aircraft of Canada as their primary ship-borne maritime helicopter and have kept them running for 55 years. The fleet has flown in excess of 550,000 combined hours which at cruising speed of an SH-3 is roughly equivalent to flying 7,200 times around the Earth, or the equivalent of the distance from Earth to Mars.

The Canadian Armed Forces gave a final salute to the type, which they term the CH-124, in a parade held last week at CFB Esquimalt in Victoria, B.C., flown by 443 Squadron, the last operational Sea King unit the country.

“The Royal Canadian Navy has been well served by the Sea King – our longest range weapon and sensor – for decades,” said VADM M. F. Ron Lloyd, Commander of the RCN. “It was an honour to fly with the crew of Black Horse, the helicopter deployed with HMCS St. John’s, during the Sea King’s last operational deployment supporting NATO assurance measures this summer. Canada’s Navy and the Royal Canadian Air Force continue to forge ahead with an exciting new chapter, marked by the first operational deployment of Avalanche, the Cyclone helicopter currently deployed on NATO operations with HMCS Ville de Quebec.”

The last overseas deployment for the Sea King came during the first half of 2018 aboard HMCS St. John’s as part of Operation Reassurance.