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Mon, Jan 04, 2010

Navy Retires Sea Kings After 50 Years Of Service

Marines Will Use Helos To Train

The last operational UH-3H Sea King helicopter was retired from the U.S. Navy. last month, during a ceremony ending 50 years of service by the Sea King.

Capt. Andrew Macyko, Patuxent River Commanding Officer and former Sea King pilot and squadron commander, presided over the ceremony.

"This ceremony is for all the maintainers, the support people and crews who flew the mighty Sea King over the decades," said Macyko. "The Sea King was a pleasure to fly and was the longest serving operational helicopter model in Navy history."

This Sea King will continue to serve the nation as it is turned over to Marine Helicopter Squadron One (HMX-1) for use as a training and test asset for the Presidential VH-3D fleet,  added Macyko.

The first Sea King prototype flew on Mar. 11, 1959. The last operational Sea King, tail number 154121, was manufactured in 1986 and flew 10,166.2 hours over the course of its lifetime. Its final operational missions were flying Search and Rescue and other utility missions in support of flight test programs here at Pax River.

Rear Adm. Ron Christenson (U.S. Navy ret.), a former Sea King pilot, Sea King squadron commander and was the first helicopter pilot to command a U.S. nuclear aircraft carrier, USS Theodore Roosevelt (CVN 71), was the guest speaker.

"The trusty Sea King was an amazing machine," said Christenson. "It's truly one of the greatest aircraft ever designed. The Sea King was a multi-mission helicopter before they invented the term. But as great as the Sea King was, it's the people who maintained it, supported it and flew in it that really made it what it was."

It's estimated that Sea King helicopters flew more than 5.2 million flight hours in military service and three to four million flight hours in civilian service added Christenson.

"As we turn over the keys to the Marines of HMX-1, we know you will take good care of her because you know it will take good care of you," said Christenson.

After Christenson's speech, Macyko turned over the log books to Col. Jerry Glavy, HMX-1 Commanding Officer, transferring Sea King 154121 to HMX-1 and officially ending Sea King service to the U.S. Navy.

The H-3 Sea King or one of its variants has been flown by all the Services in the Department of Defense, the U.S. Coast Guard, by 23 different countries and it remains a front line military helicopter in many of those countries today. The U.S. Marine Corps remains the last U.S. military service to operate the Sea King helicopter.

FMI: www.NAVY.mil

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