77 Royal Navy helicopter crew members receive Afghanistan Operational Service Medals

77 Royal Navy helicopter crew members receive Afghanistan Operational Service Medals 6 May, 10, Source: Royal Navy

77 Royal Navy Sea King crew members from 857 Naval Air Squadron have been presented with their Afghanistan Operational Service Medals by The Prince of Wales.

Naval Officers and Ratings from the Squadron marched from Wellington Barracks past Buckingham Palace and up the Mall to receive the Operational Service Medal at a Royal medal presentation ceremony at Clarence House London. The Squadron was deployed to Afghanistan to conduct Air Operations between October 2009 and March 2010.

The “eye-in-the-sky” capability of the Mark 7 Sea King provides vital information to forces tackling the insurgency in the region and this capability is key to achieving security and stability for those living in the area.  Originally designed to identify potential aerial targets and provide early warning to the Fleet at sea, the Searchwater 2000 radar and system operators have proved highly effective at tracking both maritime and land targets over a wide area and in many different environments.

Lt Cdr Steve Lynch, Commanding Officer of 857 NAS said;

“This is a very proud and special day for the Squadron personnel and their supportive families, I am honoured to bring the Squadron to London to highlight the Navy contribution to security operations in Afghanistan. This is an event we have all looked forward to and while we may enjoy the ceremony today, we remember that our friends and colleagues are still on call for flying operations every day in Afghanistan until we return to take their place.”

857 Naval Air Squadron personnel operated from Camp Bastion for the duration of their six month tour providing critical support to ground operations. The Navy regularly worked alongside both ground and airborne assets to support patrols, supply convoys and assist in their safe passage throughout the Helmand Province.
857 NAS will return to Afghanistan in the Summer 2010 to relieve their sister Naval Air Squadron, 854 NAS.  Meanwhile the squadron personnel maintain their maritime capabilities operating from ships in the more traditional roles of surveillance of the seas and skies, protecting naval warships, detecting pirates, tracking drug smugglers or working with the Royal Marines on amphibious operations.

While in Afghanistan, 857 NAS raised £7000.00 for ‘Help The Heroes’ charity, £6400 was raised on a 12,000Km run home, involving full and half marathons and £600 was raised in a weight loss competition losing a cumulative weight amongst the Squadron of 35 stone!

The Sea King squadrons are  based at the Royal Naval Air Station Culdrose, Cornwall.  Sea King helicopters are reliable and much loved by the aircrews, combined with the hugely successful, capable radar and computer equipment, the airborne surveillance and control by 857 Squadron, 854 Squadron, and the parent squadron 849 are a vital and much respected force. Ends

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