Naval Air: Sea King Leaves The Navy

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December 14, 2009: The U.S. Navy has retired its last UH-3H Sea King transport helicopter, and transferred most of the remaining ones to the U.S. Marine Corps. The navy used to be the largest operator of the H-3, using hundreds of them for anti-submarine warfare, as well as transporting personnel and supplies, plus search and rescue.

The nine ton Sea King is a late 1950s design, and contemporary of the U.S. Army's UH-1 "Huey." In the U.S., the Sea Kings were replaced by a navy version of the Hueys successor, the UH-60 Blackhawk. Over a dozen other navies bought the Sea King, and many still use it. But these aircraft are getting old.

The Sea King has a range of about a thousand kilometers, and a top speed of 210 kilometers an hour. It was mainly used for anti-submarine warfare and search and rescue. Some 1,500 were built (about ten percent were the civilian S-61 version), and over a hundred are still in use. Such long service lives are increasingly common. Some of the first Sea Kings survived for over three decades. And many of the navy Sea Kings will continue to serve with the marines, where even the U.S. president still travels aboard them.

 

 


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