The Royal Australian Navy (RAN) has today decommissioned its Sea King helicopters and its operating 817 Squadron following a final flight from HMAS Albatross in Nowra, Australia.

The last Sea King formation departed the Naval Air Station at HMAS Albatross in Nowra for Sydney, where they flew over the harbour and returned to the coast.

Minister for defence science and personnel, Warren Snowdon said: "Sea Kings are being retired after a remarkable 35 years serving in times of conflict, peacekeeping, natural disaster, search and rescue, and national celebration."

The Sea King’s amphibious and maritime logistics support role will be performed by the new MRH90 multirole helicopter, which is currently undergoing acceptance trials.

Earlier this year, the government said the sixth Sea King Shark 07 will not be sold, but preserved in the Fleet Air Arm Museum in Nowra, for future generations.

The Sea King anti-submarine helicopter is a versatile helicopter with the ability to pick up loads heavier than a Land Rover and can operate day and night, in good weather and bad, and at low level over the sea and over land.

The Westland Sea King helicopters entered operational service in Australia in 1975 from the aircraft carrier HMAS Melbourne, and later from a variety of Australian ships, and performed various operational roles.

The Sea King can operate from the supply ship HMAS Success, the landing ship HMAS Tobruk and the amphibious transport ships HMAS Manoora and HMAS Kanimbla, and have flown in excess of 60,000 hours in a range of operations both at home and abroad.

The helicopters provided service during the 1994 bushfires, the 1998 Sydney to Hobart Yacht Race, the 2001 North NSW floods and this year in the South East Queensland flood relief, Snowdon said.

The government will offer a Sea King helicopter to the Australian War Memorial for display in recognition of its role in combat operations in Timor and the Middle East.