Norway bids farewell to abdicating Sea Kings

The Royal Norwegian Air Force (RNoAF) marked the formal retirement of its Sea King Mk 43B search-and-rescue (SAR) helicopters on November 27, bringing to an end more than 50 years of operational service with the type.

The RNoAF’s last Sea King Mk 43B (189) is seen landing at Bergen, Norway, for a brief stop on November 26. The aircraft visited Bergen briefly as it transited from Stavanger-Sola Flystasjon to Rygge Flystasjon, where it will be temporarily stored.
The RNoAF’s last Sea King Mk 43B (189) is seen landing at Bergen, Norway, for a brief stop on November 26. The aircraft visited Bergen briefly as it transited from Stavanger-Sola Flystasjon to Rygge Flystasjon, where it will be temporarily stored. Norwegian Armed Forces/Helene Synes

The final Sea King Mk 43B (189) left Stavanger-Sola Flystasjon (Air Station) – the headquarters of No 330 Skvadron (Squadron) – on November 22, and routed via Lysebotn, Røldal, Odda, Torpomoen, Gol, Fagernes, Lillehammer, Hamar, Gardermoen, Kjeller, Oslo and Drammen to Rygge Flystasjon, where it will be temporarily stored. The Sea King’s replacement – the AW101 Mk 612 SAR Queen – has been operational since September 1, 2020, with 16 aircraft now operating from Rygge, Sola, Ørland and Banak. It will now take over the last of the Sea King’s tasks and responsibilities.

The first of ten RNoAF Sea King Mk 43s entered service as a SAR helicopter in May 1973 and the type went on to complete more than 45,000 missions. One Sea King was lost in an accident on April 30, 1977, but was replaced the following year, and three more were delivered between 1992-1996. Three ex-RAF Sea King HAR3As (ZH540, ZH541 and ZH542) were acquired for spares and ground instructional use from November-December 2015.