The Royal Navy have launched a year of commemorative events to celebrate 60 years of Search And Rescue, and Kevin Wills was at RNAS Culdrose to check out 771NAS’s new markings.
The Fleet Air Arm has provided Search And Rescue cover to the UK since January 1953 when 12 Dragonfly helicopters from 705NAS responded to extensive flooding in East Anglia.
Since then, flying the Whirlwind, Wessex and eventually the Sea King helicopter, various Royal Navy Squadrons have provided SAR cover and continue to keep round-the-clock readiness.
The current fleet of Sea King Mk5 Helicopters, operated by 771NAS at RNAS Culdrose in Cornwall and HMS Gannet, based at Prestwick airport in Scotland, have been decorated in a special scheme, commemorating rescues performed by the Fleet Air Arm.
The rescues range from nationally publicised operations like the Boscastle floods and the recovery of the crew of the MSC Napoli, to little known rescues from yachts in UK waters. Connecting all of these operations is one theme; gallantry. For every rescue detailed on the aircraft, a member of the crew involved was recognised for their bravery.
On 22 Mar 2013, the new livery was unveiled at 771NAS, and their the distinctive red and grey helicopters will be displayed throughout the year at airshows and events throughout the country, including RIAT and the RAF Waddington International Airshow.
In addition to commemorating their own efforts, the air and groundcrew from across the RN SAR Force will be taking part in fundraising efforts throughout 2013 with the aim of raising £60,000 for the Royal Navy and Marines Charity; CLIC Sargent, providing support for children with cancer, and their families; and Children’s Hospice South West, which provides care for children with terminal illnesses.
Rebel Brewery of Penryn, near Falmouth, has also produced a commemorative beer as part of the SAR 60 celebrations, with all profits going to 771’s chosen charities.
Other charity efforts range from cycling from Prestwick to Culdrose in 60 hours, through to commissioning a special edition commemorative watch that will be available to purchase. Many of the personnel taking part in these efforts will be attending events with their aircraft this year, so please do drop by if you see them. Those doing the cycling, after 60 hours in the saddle, will be the ones standing by the aircraft!
Kevin Wills would like to thank Lt Jon Duke and everyone at 771NAS, RNAS Culdrose.