845 NAS Host American Airforce Rescue Sqn
845 Naval Air Squadron at RNAS Yeovilton hosted helicopters and 30 personnel from the 56th Rescue Squadron (RQS) of the United States Air Force, who brought with them two HH-60 Pavehawk’s, the Search and Rescue version of the H-60 Blackhawk.
The Junglies are old friends of the Pavehawks and 56 RQS having recently served together during Operation Ellamy onboard HMS Ocean off the Libyan coast, where they conducted personnel recovery operations in support of the Coalition forces. The Pavehawk is designed to carry out day or night operations into hostile environments and recover downed aircrew or other isolated personnel back to friendly lines. (Combat Search and Rescue, CSAR.) Because of its versatility, they can be tasked to also take part in civil search and rescue, emergency medical evacuation (MEDEVAC), or disaster relief.
The two Pavehawk helicopters operated out of Yeovilton for a week, where they familiarised themselves with the deck of the Royal Fleet Auxiliary ship Argus in the English Channel. 56 RQS, who are based out of RAF Lakenheath in Suffolk, as part of the United States Air Force in Europe, are also known to the Commando Helicopter Force crews out in Afghanistan where they operate under the ‘Pedro’ callsign, playing a valuable role in lifting wounded soldiers of all nationalities to the nearest hospital facilities.
During their visit the chance to have a closer look at each others’ kit and equipment and discuss recent deployments was high on the agenda. Building on their HMS Ocean experience, the US aircrews were keen to learn more of what the Commando Sea King Squadrons do. “Not only am I in awe of the aircraft, I also think their work extracting casualties from the Green Zone in Afghanistan must be one of the most rewarding pilot jobs around.” said Sub Lt Fred Durrant, who hosted the USAF crews.
“We were able to accomplish a great deal of training while at Yeovilton we managed over 80 deck landings on RFA Argus and this was due in large part to the support from 845 Naval Air Squadron and the Commando Helicopter Force”, said Lt Col Jon Cary 56 RQS Ops Officer.
845 NAS were delighted to have been able to assist the USAF with their training and build on strong ties that exist between British and US forces. The Squadrons also worked together during Ex Joint Warrior.