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817 Squadron

817 Sqn
817 Squadron was a Royal Australian Navy Fleet Air Arm squadron. It was originally formed as part of the Royal Navy's Fleet Air Arm for service during World War II, when it took part in combat operations in Norway, North Africa, Sicily and off the coast of France.

The squadron was disbanded in 1945 following the conclusion of hostilities. In 1950, it was re-raised as part of the Royal Australian Navy and subsequently took part in the Korean War.

On 25 April 1950, 817 Squadron was re-formed as a Royal Australian Navy FAA squadron operating Fairey Firefly AS6 aircraft. The Squadron embarked on HMAS Sydney and served with distinction during the Korean War, operating the Fairey Firefly Mk5.

Shark 07, 21 and 22 Sea Kings on their final mission, 15 December 2011. Turning over Lake Burley Griffin to track along Anzac Parade and over the Australian War Memorial before returning to Nowra for decommissioning.

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In October 1953 the squadron embarked on HMAS Vengeance. The Squadron disbanded and reformed with Fairey Gannets in 1955, operating from HMAS Melbourne and conducting Fleet anti-submarine warfare (ASW) support and training until 1958.

817 Squadron reformed in 1963 to conduct ASW, Fleet Utility support and training, equipped with Westland Wessex HAS.31A helicopters. These were updated to Wessex HAS.31Bs in 1968, and the Squadron was re-equipped with Westland Sea King MK50 helicopters in 1976.

817 Squadron operated from HMAS Melbourne, until the aircraft carrier decommissioned in 1982 without replacement.

The Squadron was then based at HMAS Albatross (NAS Nowra), where the Squadron had responsibility for maintaining and operating aircraft on the Kanimbla class, HMAS Tobruk and HMAS Success.

817 Squadron Sea Kings on board HMAS Melbourne in 1980.

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817 Squadron provided operational air support to the 2000 Sydney Olympic Games and support to the people of the Solomon Islands during 2000 and 2001 in Operation Trek, after the civil insurgence.

817 Squadron has been heavily committed to the fight against terrorism with continuing deployments to the Persian Gulf aboard HMAS Kanimbla and HMAS Manoora. These deployments have formed an integral part of the Australian contingent of the International Coalition Against Terrorism (ICAT).

During late 2001 and 2002, 817 Squadron aircraft deployed to the Persian Gulf as part of Operation Slipper to enforce UN sanctions against Iraq, and again in 2003 as part of Operation Falconer with the invasion and subsequent occupation of Iraq.

The squadron was also called upon in 2003 to provide further air support in the Solomon Islands as part of Operation Anode.

The Squadron also has maintained one aircraft and crew at Christmas Island for various periods to provide a surveillance capability in defence of Australia's northern borders.

An 817 Squadron Sea King during an exercise in 2007.

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Most recently, 817 Squadron has provided aircraft for Operation Sumatra Assist and Operation Sumatra Assist II, which were Australia's contribution to the humanitarian effort in Indonesia as a result of the 2004 Indian Ocean tsunami and the subsequent 2005 Nias–Simeulue earthquake.

A RAN Sea King on board HMAS Kanimbla.

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During the latter operation, one of the two Seakings (Shark 02) embarked on HMAS Kanimbla, crashed on the Island of Nias with the loss of nine personnel. The accident occurred as a result of a series of maintenance errors, specifically the incorrect re-fitting of a nut and split pin during maintenance performed on the aircraft some two months before the crash. Deficiencies in maintenance practices, training, support and logistics operations within the Navy were also identified as contributing factors. Following the accident, several major changes were made to maintenance and safety management practices at 817 Squadron.

817 Squadron was decommissioned on 16 December 2011, Having won an impressive number of battle honours, including four inherited honours from the RN’s role in WW2, Norway 1942, North Africa 1942, Biscay 1942 and Sicily 1943; and also two Australian honours, Korea 1951–2 and Iraq 2003. Wikipedia also lists a U.S. Presidential Unit Citation, but this is not mentioned in the R.A.N.’s official history website.

Video Clips
Royal Australian Navy Sea King

817 Squadron Wessex

Sea King Helps Launch RAN Centenary Book and Stamps

817 Squadron Decommissioning