Saturday, March 5, 2011

We are called Kings for a reason.

A very good friend of mine just left his wife and young daughter. He gave them 30 hours of notice before he packed his bags and left. I wasn’t there when they hugged and kissed their goodbyes, but I know how it went. It wasn’t the first time he has dropped everything and left, not knowing how long he was going to be gone. The last time he left, he was sailing to an earthquake ravaged Haiti. This time he is going to Libya.
I wish I as going with him.
We fly Sea King helicopters for the Canadian Forces. The Canadian Broadcasting Corporation (CBC) has a fact sheet about our aircraft that they use from time to time to augment their stories which we may play a part. 

They are known as the "ancient" Sea Kings, the "geriatric" Sea Kings, the "venerable" Sea Kings. They have been called "flying coffins." Purchased with considerable fanfare by the federal government in 1963, when they turned heads with their impressive exploits, the Sea Kings are now a sick, aging fleet, with pieces literally falling out of the skies...
The glory days of the Sea Kings are in the distant past, yesterday's heroes, now burdened more with a reputation for embarrassing crashes than for saving lives or finding submarines.
I have only been part of the Maritime Helicopter community for a couple of years, so my experience is rather limited. In those two years, this is what I have witnessed.
Counter piracy operations in the Gulf of Aden.

"Major James Hawthorne's outstanding composure as the Crew Commander of a Sea King helicopter was essential to locating and interdicting armed pirates in the Gulf of Aden on 18 April 2009.
A skiff carrying seven pirates who attacked Norwegian tanker Front Ardenne in the Gulf of Aden races toward the Somali coast with Palomino 16, the CH-124 Sea King helicopter from HMCS Winnipeg, in pursuit, April 18, 2009. The pirates later surrendered when their skiff was seized by an HMCS Winnipeg boarding party.
Drug interdiction operations in British Columbia.
A former sailor in the Canadian Navy, Rompré has experience working with the military and has great respect for the Air Force crews with whom he now flies.
“You can ask them anything and they can push their machine and their crew to the limit to get the job done,” he says.
Although the RCMP says it locates grow-ops year round, police normally step up their efforts in late summer when the plants are budding and may soon be harvested. An RCMP helicopter and two Sea King helicopters will be involved in the crackdown,
Drug interdiction operations in Nova Scotia.
A military helicopter is used to spot the grow-ops, then officers head to the field or woods to seize the plants.
Drug interdiction operations in the Caribbean.
The ship, aircraft and their crews return home following a month-long deployment with the U.S. Joint Interagency Task Force South (JIATF-S), during which 68 bales of cocaine, amounting to approximately 1 650 kilograms, with an estimated value of $33M, were intercepted. 
Hurricane relief in Newfoundland

The Sea Kings have been tasked to meet urgent transport, heavy-lift, night-flying and supply needs... Three naval ships and Sea King helicopters helped deliver essential supplies to isolated coastal villages.
He said Sea King helicopters delivered aid to communities that were isolated by hurricane damage. King's Cove, Knight's Cove, Stock Cove and Keels all had supplies dropped in by helicopter.
Search and Rescue

A Sea King helicopter deployed by the Joint Rescue Co-ordination Centre in Halifax that had been part of the search was called off earlier Sunday because of low visibility and heavy winds
The Joint Rescue Co-ordination Centre launched the search on Monday morning. A Hercules aircraft from CFB Greenwood, a Sea King helicopter from Shearwater, and a Transport Canada plane scoured the area along with three coast guard vessels.
Due to the rough terrain EHS was unable to transport the injured man out of the forest and arrangements were made with the Joint Rescue Coordination Centre to have a helicopter airlift the patient out. He was transported to Yarmouth Regional Hospital with non-life threatening injuries.
Air to air interception- G8-G20 Summit

Operation Hestia, Haiti earthquake relief

I am so proud to fly Sea Kings.

Ya we are old, and we leak. We break on occasion and the the media loves to ridicule us. But the simple fact is, when something bad happens in the world, Canada turns to us to help fix it.

We are a Cold War Antisubmarine aircraft with a heart of gold.

Godspeed Paul, and Charlottetown. We all wish we were with you.


  1. Great round-up of links and photos! I was fortunate enough to take a Sea King ride one family fly day and when I tell friends and family, I hear a lot of "wouldn't be caught dead in one of those". Knowing how much maintenance goes into a Sea King and how capable the crew flying them are? I'd rather get into a Sea King then some people's cars! It's exciting to catch a glimpse of the Cyclone in Halifax harbour doing ship trials, but there's still something very comforting about the sound of a Sea King overhead. I hope that your friend Paul, and all those on HMCS Charlottetown, have a safe trip to Libya.

  2. I'd like to add that the Seaking is NOT a NAVY Helicopter. We, as airmen and airwomen, belong to the Canadian Airforce. Our job, when working aboard Her Majesty's Canadian Ship, is to augment the range of her sensors.

    Keep up the good work, Snob!

    1. The Sea King is a memorable part of my history. It was a Navy helicopter from day one. They were built and designed for the Navy. They flew off Navy ships. They were initially crewed by "Naval Aircrewmen". I will now and always refer to them as Navy helicopters. (HS50, 1970-73 and HS443, 1977-81)---just sayin'

  3. Nothing beats the memory of climbing all over the HS-50 SeaKings in the Lower Decks of the Bonaventure and running around the Banshees of Shearwater. I still can feel the earth shake as the Trackers flew over Firefly Terrace. I can still remember the absence with everyone focused on Cuba in the early 60's (you know, the missile crisis) Now that keep the SeaKings flying. Not this pissy little pirate stuff off the African Horn.

  4. Thanks Mr. Snob,

    You guys rock ! Thanks for the marvellous work you do.


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