Members of HMS Gannet search and rescue flight salute the White Ensign for the final time

Members of HMS Gannet search and rescue flight salute the White Ensign for the final time

The flag has finally been lowered at a rescue base in a ceremony ending 44 years of history.

HMS Gannet, home to the Royal Navy’s Sea King helicopter crews, was officially decommissioned, three weeks after a commemorative flight around Scotland.

Pilots and crew members gathered at the Prestwick base to salute the White Ensign for the last time on Thursday.

The red and grey Sea Kings were a welcome sight to those in distress on the mountains of Britain

The red and grey Sea Kings were a welcome sight to those in distress on the mountains of Britain

In its final year of operation, HMS Gannet was the UK’s busiest search and rescue unit, and in 2009 conducted 447 rescues, a record unlikely to be surpassed. Over a 44-year period, the Royal Navy team has helped and saved thousands of people in the mountains of Scotland and northern England, the distinctive red and grey Sea King helicopters a welcome sight to many a person in distress.

But with search and rescue duties transferred to a civilian aircraft operated by Bristow on behalf of the Coastguard on New Year’s Day, Gannet has been decommissioned, with sister unit 771 Naval Air Squadron in Culdrose decommissioning next month.

Royal Navy personnel at the decommissioning

Royal Navy personnel at the decommissioning

Lieutenant Commander Charlie Fuller, the Ayrshire unit’s final commanding officer, said: “Over the years, HMS Gannet has enjoyed immense support the length and breadth of Scotland.

“This decommissioning ceremony is the final piece of a rather emotional farewell jigsaw.”

Some articles the site thinks might be related:

  1. Royal Navy Sea King rescue crews go out on a high as final shift begins
  2. Royal Navy Sea King crew honoured for heroic rescue of Ben Nevis pair
  3. Five rescued in final day to remember for Royal Navy pilot Geoff Richardson
  4. HMS Gannet crest will hang in new Bristow helicopter rescue crews’ base
  5. Inverness rescue helicopter base officially opened as Sea King service nears end