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Fleet Air Arm: 816 Squadron

Air Arm 816 Squadron is a squadron of the R.A.N. Fleet Air Arm that started life as a Royal Navy carrier based squadron in 1939 embarked in HMS Furious.

In 1948, 816 Squadron was re-formed as a Royal Australian Navy squadron operating Fairey Firefly aircraft. The Squadron formed part of the 20th Carrier Air Group embarked on HMAS Sydney.

In 1952, 816 Squadron participated in the Montebello Islands atomic weapons tests and in 1953 saw service in the Korean War.

Over the following 40 years, 816 Squadron was disbanded and re-formed several times as newer aircraft were introduced.

In 1956, with the arrival of HMAS Melbourne, 816 Squadron embarked as part of the 21st Carrier Air Group equipped with Gannet and Sea Venom aircraft.

Image: An 816 Squadron S-70B-2 Seahawk in 2011

In 1967 the RAN acquired newer aircraft and Melbourne was extensively upgraded to handle the faster and heavier aircraft. 816 Squadron was re-equipped with Grumman S-2E Trackers.

On 5 December 1976, a fire was deliberately lit by a Fleet Air Arm member near the aircraft hangars at HMAS Albatross. The fire destroyed or seriously damaged twelve of the thirteen S-2E Trackers in the RAN's possession. Subsequently, 15 second-hand S2-G Trackers were purchased from the US Government and all remaining serviceable or repairable S2-E Trackers were upgraded to the S-2G standard. 816 Squadron continued to operate S-2Gs until the decommissioning of HMAS Melbourne in 1982, when the Squadron was again disbanded.

816 Squadron was re-formed in 1992 to operate Sikorsky Seahawk helicopters. The squadron has embarked helicopters on RAN Adelaide class and Anzac class frigates and participated in many operations, including service in the Persian Gulf.

From 1984 until 1987, 816 Squadron operated Westland Wessex helicopters in an Army support role.

Image: An S-2G Tracker of 816 Squadron lands on HMAS Melbourne

On 13 December 2012 it was announced that 816 Squadron will transition to the new MH-60R Seahawk, with 725 Squadron being reformed to be the training squadron.

In summary then, the previous Aircraft flown in RAN Service include the Fairey Firefly FR.4, FR.5 & FR.6 an attack reconnaissance Aircraft, Fairey Gannet AS.1 & T.2 for Anti Submarine Warfare, de Havilland Sea Venom FAW.53 an all-weather interceptor, the Grumman S-2E & S2-G Tracker, an anti submarine warfare aircraft, and the Westland Wessex HAS 31B which was used for Army Support.

816 is currently active as a helicopter squadron equipped with S-70B-2 Seahawk helicopters, providing potent anti Submarine Warfare, Anti Shipping, Surveillance & Targeting capabilities to the fleet. The Squadron is based at HMAS Albatross (NAS Nowra) and primarily operates from the Navy's Adelaide class frigates. At the time of writing the squadron commander is Commander M.L. Pavillard

Members Who Served:

Member of the Nepean Blue Mountains Sub-Section who served in the 816 Squadron.

John (Ned) Kelly

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