Tuesday, March 13, 2007

Navy Says Farewell to Last Sea King

Photo: MH-60 Seahawk helicopters fly in formation with an H-3 Sea King assigned to Helicopter Sea Combat Squadron Eight Five (HSC-85) during a ceremonial flight honoring more than 40 years of service by the H-3 Sea King. Sea King is being replaced by the SH-60 Seahawk helicopter throughout the Navy. U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist Seaman Dustin Kelling

By Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Stephanie Tigner, Fleet Public Affairs Center Pacific

Sailors from Helicopter Sea Combat Squadron (HSC) 85 held a decommissioning ceremony for the Navy’s last H-3 Sea King helicopter March 6.

The helicopter departed Naval Air Station North Island en route to Atlanta to be prepped for foreign military sales.

For the past six months the Navy has phased out the H-3s and replaced them with the MH-60 helicopters which have newer technology, capabilities, and advanced ergonomics.

“Although this is a sad day for anyone who has had the pleasure of flying or working on it," said Cmdr. James Cluxton, commanding officer of HSC-85 who has flown the H-3 for the past seven years. "The Sea King has far exceeded original expectations and has forged a long, proud legacy.”

During the past 37 years, HSC-85 used the H-3 for search and rescue missions as well as to launch/recover mobile anti-submarine warfare targets and torpedoes.

Dave Williams, the Navy’s last official H-3 technical representative, said it was sad to see it go.

“I will miss its reliability and versatility," he said. "It’s an all around good aircraft.”

As the H-3 Sea King prepared to taxi down the runway for the last time, Cluxton concluded his farewell.

“Today we say ‘fair winds and following seas’ to an old friend as this aircraft moves on to another location and to another round of dedicated service. There’s only one King -- long live the King!”