Aircraft History

Sikorsky Sea King

CHSS-2 Sea King (RCN) The Royal Canadian Navy (RCN) operated a total of 41 Sikorsky CHSS-2 Sea Kings, the first of which were taken on strength at Shearwater on 24 May 1963. Although the components were manufactured by Sikorsky in the United States, all but the first four were assembled in Canada by United Aircraft Ltd. in Montreal. The CHSS-2 was a major improvement over its predecessor, the HO4S-3. Not only was the Sea King amphibious, but it possessed an all weather day-night capability in addition to greater speed, range, endurance and payload. The Sea King served with HS 50, the operational anti-submarine warfare squadron; HU 21, the helicopter training and utility (including carrier on-board delivery) squadron; and VX 10, the squadron responsible for engineering development and testing. The Sea King operated at sea from both the aircraft carrier HMCS Bonaventure and from helicopter destroyer escorts (DDH's). The carrier normally embarked four to six Sea Kings along with the normal complement of Trackers and a single HO4S plane guard. The St.Laurent and Annapolis class DDH's carried one helicopter whereas the larger Tribal Class DDH's embarked two Sea Kings.

Sea Kings in their original RCN dark sea gray and light gray colour scheme were painted dayglo orange on the nose and tail to make them easily recognizable during joint sea-air anti-submarine exercises.

When Canada's armed forces were integrated in February 1968, the CHSS-2 Sea King received its new Canadian Forces CH-124 designation. With the demise of HMCS Bonaventure in 1969 and the appearance of the new DDH 280 Tribal Class destroyers, management of aircrew and maintenance personnel for nine small DDH detachments, four larger Tribal Class detachments and two AOR (Auxiliary Oiler Replenishment ship) flight test detachments was beyond the capabilities of a single squadron. Therefore, it was decided to split HS 50, the single helicopter anti-submarine squadron, into two operational squadrons. On 3 September1974, HS 50 was deactivated and two former RCAF squadrons with a proud WW II lineage were reactivated at Shearwater as HS 423 and HS 443. At the same time, Sea Kings adopted the standard Canadian Forces overall gray-green paint scheme.

CH-124 Sea King (CF) Also with the formation of the Canadian Armed Forces in February 1968, Naval Air Station HMCS Shearwater was renamed Canadian Forces Base (CFB) Shearwater and the base was reorganized. In September 1971, many of the Shearwater aircrew training functions previously conducted by the utility squadrons VU 32 (Trackers), HU 21 (Sea Kings), the Operational Flight Tactical Trainer section and the Aircrew Division were consolidated into a single Operational Training Squadron. On 12 July 1972 the new Maritime Operational Training Squadron was designated VT 406 to carry on the proud lineage of the RCAF's 406 Squadron which distinguished itself as a night fighter squadron during WW II. VT 406 was responsible for training pilots, navigators, airborne electronic sensor operators and technicians for both the Tracker and Sea King as well as training in: sea survival, underwater acoustics and the flight and tactical simulators.

When the operational Tracker squadron, MR 880, was transferred from CFB Shearwater to CFB Summerside PEI in the summer of 1981, it absorbed the Tracker training function and 406 Squadron was redesigned HT 406, responsible only for Sea King aircrew and technician training.

CH-124A Sea King (Current) In August 1990 after Iraq invaded Kuwait, three naval ships were sent to the Persian Gulf, as part of Canada's commitment to an United Nations multi-national force to restore peace. The DDH, HMCS Athabaskan, embarked a two Sea King detachment and the AOR, HMCS Protecteur, embarked a three Sea King detachment, both detachments from Shearwater's HS 423 Squadron. The third ship, HMCS Terra Nova (DDE), was not helicopter capable. The five Sea Kings were the first Canadian combat aircraft to participate in the Persian Gulf action, dubbed 'Operation Friction'. Operationally, the Sea Kings were tasked to interdict unauthorized merchant vessels in the Gulf, protect the vital logistic sea lines, and search for mines.

The Sea King proved to be very capable in a myriad of peacekeeping and peacemaking roles during the first Persian Gulf War. This led to the Sea King playing a leading role in supporting almost all of Canada's humanitarian, peacekeeping and peacemaking operations since 1991. These operations include:

OP FRICTION 1990-91: Persian Gulf; maritime interdiction and mine countermeasures;
OP FLAG 1991: Red Sea; maritime interdiction;
OP DELIVERANCE 1992-93: Somalia; delivery of food, water, medical supplies, fuel and troops as well conducting tactical reconnaissance;
OP FORWARD ACTION 1993-94: Haiti; maritime interdiction in support of U.N. fuel and arms embargo;
OP SHARP GUARD 1993-97: Adriatic Sea; maritime interdiction to support U.N. fuel and arms embargo against former states of Yugoslavia;
OP ASSISSTANCE 1997: Manitoba; search and rescue, medical evacuation and aerial reconnaissance for the Red River flood;
OP DETERMINATION 1998: Arabian Sea; shipping interdiction;
OP PERSISTENCE 1998: Nova Scotia; search, transportation and recovery in support of Swissair Flight 111 crash;
OP TOUCAN 1999-2000: East Timor; transportation and aerial reconnaissance;
OP APOLLO 2001- Present: Arabian Sea: battle group escort, surface surveillance and maritime interdiction in support of war on terrorism.

Type: Ship borne Anti-Submarine and maritime reconnaissance helicopter

Rotor Diameter:
18.9 m (62 ft)

Length:
16.69 m (54 ft 9 in)

Height:
4.69 m (15 ft 4 in)

Max. Speed:
238 kph (148 mph)

Service Ceiling:
3901 m (12,800 ft)

Range:
861 km (535 mi)

Max. Weight:
8391 kg (18,500 lb)

Empty Weight:
5382 kg (11,865 lb)

Power Plant:
Two 932 kW (1250 hp) General Electric T-58 GE 8 turboshaft engines

Armament:
External hard points for 381 kg (840 lb) of weapons, normally two Mk 46 torpedoes