1994 to 2015: Search and Rescue

22 Sqn B Flt Sea King HAR3A

Just as all links to the RAF were being broken, Wattisham was getting ready to welcome ‘B’ Flight of the RAF’s 22 Squadron, equipped with Sea King HAR3 helicopters in the search and rescue role. Covering all types of mission from escaping lilos to civil rescues in bad weather, the prime task was always to be the recovery of downed aircrew in the sea. Manned with 18 aircrew and some 40 maintenance engineers the bright yellow mounts were on fifteen minutes readiness every day and forty five minutes at night.

While stationed at Wattisham the trusty HAR3s were replaced with the new-build HAR3A with an automated hover system which enabled the helicopter to remain over a fixed point no matter what the weather.

By 2015 the press was predicting the civilianising of the UK Air Sea Rescue Service and the last days of the Sea King fleet. The task passed to HM Coastguard and the well known bright yellow fleet of the RAF helicopters were withdrawn from Wattisham.

The three based aircraft departed as follows:
ZH540 17th August 2015

ZH541 12th August 2015

ZH543 18th August 2015

The Sea Kings flew out of Wattisham for the very last time on the 18th August 2015.