Minister for Defence Materiel Jason Clare was at the Fleet Air Arm Museum in Nowra to announce that Sea King Shark 07 would be preserved at the Museum given the significant role the Sea King has played in Naval Aviation over the last 36 years.
“The Sea King has served our nation well over the last 36 years and it is fitting that an example of this Navy work horse is preserved here in Nowra,” Mr Clare said.
“Nowra was chosen to receive the Sea King helicopter because it has been the home base for the Navy’s Sea King operations with 817 Squadron since 1974.
“Sea King Shark 07 was chosen because it has the most operational history of all the Sea King helicopters, having served in the Middle East and East Timor.
“The Sea Kings are known as the workhorse of the Navy, large enough to pick up loads heavier than a Land Rover. They have flown in excess of 60,000 hours in a range of operations both at home and abroad.”
The permanent display of a Sea King in the Museum will also honour the nine Defence personnel who perished when Sea King Shark 02 crashed on the Indonesian island of Nias on 2 April 2005. They were in Indonesia to provide humanitarian assistance to the Indonesian people in the aftermath of the 2005 earthquake.
The community in Nowra was hit hard by the Nias disaster as four of the nine Defence personnel were members of the 817 Squadron based at Nowra.
“Sea King Shark 07 will be a permanent memorial to the seven young men and two young women we lost that day.
“Not only does Australia owe them a great debt, so to do the Indonesian people.
The aircraft has also come to the assistance of many Australians.
In 1994 the Sea Kings were involved in one of the largest fire fighting efforts in Australia’s history. The aircraft used water buckets to fight fires raging near Grafton, Gosford, Bulahdelah, and Sydney’s western suburbs.
The Sea Kings have also been used for rescue operations at sea.
In 1998, two of the helicopters were involved in rescuing yacht crews in disastrous weather conditions during the 1998 Sydney to Hobart Yacht Race.
One of the Sea Kings’ last operations was to South West Queensland to provide response and recovery efforts during the Queensland floods.
As recently as 17 May they were involved in the dramatic rescue of a climber on Lord Howe Island.
A Sea King helicopter will also be offered for display at the Australian War Memorial in recognition of the Sea King’s role in combat operations in Timor and the Middle East.
Sea King helicopters will be withdrawn from service in December 2011.
The remaining aircraft and associated support equipment will be offered for sale by tender. Announcements regarding the tender and sale will be made in the coming months.
Ministerial Support and Public Affairs,
Department of Defence,