The contribution of the SKASaC force over five years has been magnificent, taking the fight to a determined enemy in a vastly unfamiliar environment. Your vital work saved many lives and proved the value of the aircraft over land.

Admiral Sir George Zambellas, First Sea Lord

As 854 departed, the Defence Secretary Michael Fallon said: “I am pleased to be able to pay tribute to the contribution made by the 854 Naval Air Squadron, which has played an essential role in supporting troops on the ground in Afghanistan.” 

The Royal Navy’s First Sea Lord, Admiral Sir George Zambellas, said: “The contribution of the SKASaC force over five years has been magnificent, taking the fight to a determined enemy in a vastly unfamiliar environment.  Your vital work saved many lives and proved the value of the aircraft over land.” 

During their continued period in theatre, 857 and 854 Squadrons have enabled the discovery of significant amounts of IED-making equipment, arms, drugs and suspect insurgents.  They have regularly directed ground forces to vehicles laden with fertiliser, electric wiring and batteries, all of which are used to make explosives.

The Commanding Officer of RNAS Culdrose, Captain Mark Garratt said: “We are enormously proud of the contribution of the whole Sea King ASaC Force.  Personnel have been deployed to operations in Afghanistan for long periods during the past five years and the Sea King Force has had sterling support from all at Culdrose, but we must also thank the families of those involved who have had their loved ones miss birthdays, Christmas and other important family occasions.” 

As well as the Fleet Air Arm, thousands of members of the Royal Navy and Royal Marines have previously served in Afghanistan in support of Operation Herrick. During Herrick 5 in 2006 and 2007 and Herrick 9 in 2008 and 2009, 3 Commando Brigade Royal Marines HQ and 42 Commando RM and 45 Commando RM were deployed. At those times Royal Navy and Royal Marines made up around 40 per cent of UK troops. Individuals from the Royal Navy and Royal Marines will continue to serve in Afghanistan until the conclusion of combat operations by the end of the year.

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