723 Squadron History Part 2

 
 

Albatross and Creswell, conducted a combined Freedom of Entry march through the streets of Nowra on 31 August 2013 celebrating the 65th anniversary of the commissioning of Albatross and the 100th anniversary of the establishment of the Royal Australian Naval College. As part of the event, three Squirrels and two Bell 429s joined aircraft from 808 and 816 Squadrons to conduct a flypast. The event served as precursor for a much larger event to take place just a few weeks later.

 

 

 

723 Squadron's Squirrels lead the flypast during the Freedom of Entry march in Nowra, August 2013.
723 Squadron's Squirrels lead the flypast during the Freedom of Entry march in Nowra, August 2013.

The squadron made history in two navies that September when two Squirrels embarked in the Spanish fleet replenishment ship ESPS Cantabria. The event was significant for both the Spanish Armada and the Royal Australian Navy as it was the first occasion of a foreign helicopter flight embarkation for either navy. The 723 Squadron Cantabria Flight consisted of two aircraft and 25 personnel, and was the culmination of months of hard work by both navies. Embarked training was conducted in deck landings, vertical replenishment (VERTREP), transfers and anti-surface warfare. Maintenance personnel also gained valuable experience, the deployment being the first time that the majority of them had been a member of a flight at sea, and had the challenge of maintaining and supporting multiple aircraft on a warship at sea. The detachment disembarked from Cantabria on 18 October.

723 Squadron's ESPS Cantabria detachment on the flight deck. Note the Squirrel on the right wearing it's 2013 International Fleet Review livery.
723 Squadron's ESPS Cantabria detachment on the flight deck. Note the Squirrel on the right wearing it's 2013 International Fleet Review livery.

The squadron participated in the International Fleet Review in Sydney between 4 and 9 October with as many as nine aircraft taking part aerial displays and flypasts for both the fleet review and the combined navies march. As well as RAN and RAAF aircraft, the fleet review flypast also featured aircraft from France, the UK, Canada, New Zealand and the USA, while the combined navies march on 9 October included more than 3,000 sailors marching through the streets of Sydney.

Squirrels conducting an aerial display during the International Fleet Review, 2013 (Photo: ABCIS Myfanwy Rees)
Squirrels conducting an aerial display during the International Fleet Review, 2013 (Photo: ABCIS Myfanwy Rees)

In 2014 the Squirrels celebrated 30 years of service in the RAN. The light and versatile Squirrel has proven to be one of the most successful airframes in RAN history, amassing an enviable record in both operations in training and doing so with remarkable reliability. The actually anniversary, 14 May, passed without fanfare as the squadron was occupied conducting training and other taskings. A dedicated ceremony was held later in the year.

From 23 June to 7 August 2014, a Squirrel was embarked in HMAS Parramatta (IV) during the ship’s deployment to Pacific in support of Operation SOLANIA, the Australian Defence Force’s contribution to maritime surveillance in the Pacific region. The ship visited Noumea, Port Vila and Honiara, and conducted exercises with French naval units in New Caledonia and civil aid tasks in Honiara following recent flooding. The Squirrel conducted numerous surface search sorties over the course of the deployment while also conducting embarked training.

he embarked Squirrel Helicopter practices Vertical Replenishment with the Flight Deck Team on the forecastle of HMAS Parramatta during Operation Solania.
he embarked Squirrel Helicopter practices Vertical Replenishment with the Flight Deck Team on the forecastle of HMAS Parramatta during Operation Solania.
Leading Seaman Maritime Logistics - Steward Stacey Licence, directs the Squirrel Helicopter to leave the flight deck of HMAS Parramatta during training leading up to Operation Solania.
Leading Seaman Maritime Logistics - Steward Stacey Licence, directs the Squirrel Helicopter to leave the flight deck of HMAS Parramatta during training leading up to Operation Solania.

Chronology

Date

Event

01/1945

Formed as a RN Squadron

31/05/1946

Disbanded

07/04/1952

Re-formed at NAS Nowra as a Fleet Requirements Unit with a variety of aircraft

11/03/1953

Takes delivery of the RAN's first rotary-wing aircraft, three Bristol Sycamore HR 50 helicopters

27/10/1953

A detachment departs Australia for HMAS Sydney's second tour in Korea

04/05/1954

HMAS Sydney's second tour in Korea ends

18/06/1954

Takes delivery of the RAN's first jet aircraft, a de Havilland Sea Vampire Mk T.22

25/10/1956

De-commissioned at NAS Nowra

18/02/1957

Re-commissioned at NAS Nowra flying Sycamores, Auster J5-G Autocars and Fireflies

11/1962

723 Squadron becomes an all-helicopter squadron

18/04/1963

Takes delivery of first Westland Scout helicopters

10/02/1964

HMAS Voyager disaster. 723 Squadron assists in search and rescue efforts

20/05/1964

Takes delivery of the RAN's first Iroquois helicopter

15/07/1965

Sycamores de-commissioned

28/08/1967

First RANHFV formed

27/07/1973

Scouts de-commissioned

10/10/1973

Takes delivery of the first Kiowa helicopter

01/1976

Receives Westland Wessex helicopters from the de-commissioning HT725 Squadron

Commanding Officers

Assumed Command

Commanding Officer

07/04/1952

Lieutenant Commander J.A. Gledhill, DSC

27/04/1953

Lieutenant Commander G.A. Beange, DSC

18/05/1953

Lieutenant Commander D.C. Johns

07/09/1953

Lieutenant Commander J.B.G. Campbell, DFC

23/05/1955

Lieutenant Commander C.M.A. Wheatley

18/02/1957

Lieutenant Commander J.R.N. Salthouse

01/07/1957

Lieutenant Commander G. McPhee, OBE

24/07/1959

Lieutenant Commander J.R.N. Salthouse

27/11/1960

Lieutenant Commander J.A. O'Farrell

06/06/1962

Lieutenant Commander A. Ignatieff

11/09/1962

Lieutenant Commander J.A. O'Farrell

19/08/1963

Lieutenant Commander K.A. Douglas

13/12/1963

Lieutenant Commander J.A. O'Farrell

17/09/1964

Lieutenant Commander D.J. Orr

06/10/1965

Lieutenant Commander P.J. Vickers

25/10/1965

Lieutenant Commander G. McPhee, OBE

27/03/1967

Lieutenant Commander N. Ralph

05/06/1967

Lieutenant Commander S.B.E. Courtier

03/07/1967

Lieutenant Commander G. McPhee, OBE

16/12/1969

Lieutenant Commander G.R. Rohrsheim, DSC

03/11/1970

Lieutenant Commander D.D. Farthing, DSC

10/07/1972

Lieutenant Commander W.S. Lowe, MBE

03/11/1972

Lieutenant Commander I.M. Speedy, DSC

21/09/1973

Lieutenant Commander B.C. Crawford, DSC

01/12/1974

Lieutenant Commander J.C. Buchanan, DSC

26/01/1976

Lieutenant Commander B.J. Boettcher

12/04/1977

Lieutenant Commander J.M. Leak

20/10/1978

Lieutenant Commander C.F. Daley

23/06/1980

Lieutenant Commander V.T. Battese

19/10/1981

Lieutenant Commander M.A. Perrott

11/10/1983

Lieutenant Commander M.J. Lehan

17/02/1984

Lieutenant Commander C.F. George

10/01/1986

Lieutenant Commander R.J. Luxton

04/12/1987

Lieutenant Commander P.J. Cannell

08/12/1989

Lieutenant Commander P.J. Machin

24/01/1992

Lieutenant Commander V.E.B. Di Pietro

01/01/1994

Commander V.E.B. Di Pietro

15/04/1994

Lieutenant Commander A.F.E. Di Pietro

01/01/1996

Commander A.F.E. Di Pietro

01/01/1996

Lieutenant Commander M.T. Jerrett

01/01/1998

Commander M.T. Jerrett

30/11/1998

Lieutenant Commander S.G. Elms

01/01/1999

Commander S.G. Elms

20/11/2000

Lieutenant Commander S.A. Harwood

31/12/2002

Commander S.A. Harwood

30/04/2003

Lieutenant Commander A.M. Whittaker

29/04/2005

Lieutenant Commander N.M.D. Gunn

04/2007

Lieutenant Commander C. Brightling

05/06/2009

Commander D.L Dezentje, CSM

10/06/2011

Commander M.M Shand

28/06/2013

Commander A.C Moore

25/05/2015

Commander P.J Wynter

 

Further Reading

  1. Australian Naval Aviation Museum, Flying Stations: A Story of Australian Naval Aviation, Allen & Unwin, St Leonards, 1998
  2. Eather, Steve, Flying Squadrons of the Australian Defence Force, Aerospace Publications, Canberra, 1995
  3. Gillett, Ross, Wings Across the Sea, Aerospace Publications, Canberra, 1988
  4. Perryman, John and Brett Mitchell, Australia's Navy in Vietnam, Topmill Pty Ltd, Silverwater NSW, 2007
  5. In relation to the "Black Christmas Bushfires" 2001 - http://www.navy.gov.au/sites/default/files/documents/Navy_News-January-21-2002.pdfhttp://www.navy.gov.au/sites/default/files/documents/Navy_News-February-4-2002.pdf
  6. In relation to Fire Fighting Operations conducted by 723 SQN 2002 -http://www.navy.gov.au/sites/default/files/documents/Navy_News-December-9-2002.pdf
  7. 723 SQN's part in plotting the bushfires around the ACT 2003 -http://www.navy.gov.au/sites/default/files/documents/Navy_News-February-13-2003.pdf
  8. In relation to Operation Samoa Assist 2009 -http://www.defence.gov.au/news/navynews/editions/5222/5222.pdf
  9.  723 SQN Celebrate their 60th Anniversary 2012 -http://www.defence.gov.au/news/navynews/editions/5507/5507.pdf