723 Squadron History Part 2

723 Squadron History Part 1

HMAS Albatross and HMAS 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.

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.

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 3000 sailors marching through the streets of Sydney.

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.
 
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 its 2013 International Fleet Review livery.
 
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. (Image by 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 actual 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.
The 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 of 723 Squadron history

Date
Event
Jan 1945
Formed as a RN Squadron
31 May 1946
Disbanded
07 April 1952
Reformed at NAS Nowra as a Fleet Requirements Unit with a variety of aircraft
11 Mar 1953
Takes delivery of the RAN's first rotary-wing aircraft, three Bristol Sycamore HR 50 helicopters
27 Oct 1953
A detachment departs Australia for HMAS Sydney's second tour in Korea
04 May 1954
HMAS Sydney's second tour in Korea ends
18 June 1954
Takes delivery of the RAN's first jet aircraft, a de Havilland Sea Vampire Mk T.22
25 Oct 1956
Decommissioned at NAS Nowra
18 Feb 1957
Recommissioned at NAS Nowra flying Sycamores, Auster J5-G Autocars and Fireflies
Nov 1962
723 Squadron becomes an all-helicopter squadron
18 Apr 1963
Takes delivery of first Westland Scout helicopters
10 Feb 1964
HMAS Voyager disaster, 723 Squadron assists in search and rescue efforts
20 May 1964
Takes delivery of the RAN's first Iroquois helicopter
15 Jul 1965
Sycamores decommissioned
28 Aug 1967
First RANHFV formed
27 Jul 1973
Scouts decommissioned
10 Oct 1973
Takes delivery of the first Kiowa helicopter
Jan 1976
Receives Westland Wessex helicopters from the decommissioning HT725 Squadron

Commanding Officers of 723 Squadron

Assumed Command
Commanding Officer
07 Apr 1952
Lieutenant Commander JA Gledhill, DSC
27 Apr 1953
Lieutenant Commander GA Beange, DSC
18 May 1953
Lieutenant Commander DC Johns
07 Sep 1953
Lieutenant Commander JBG Campbell, DFC
23 May 1955
Lieutenant Commander CMA Wheatley
18 Feb 1957
Lieutenant Commander JRN Salthouse
01 Jul 1957
Lieutenant Commander G McPhee, OBE
24 Jul 1959
Lieutenant Commander JRN Salthouse
27 Nov 1960
Lieutenant Commander JA O'Farrell
06 Jun 1962
Lieutenant Commander A Ignatieff
11 Sep 1962
Lieutenant Commander JA O'Farrell
19 Aug 1963
Lieutenant Commander KA Douglas
13 Dec 1963
Lieutenant Commander JA O'Farrell
17 Sep 1964
Lieutenant Commander DJ Orr
06 Oct 1965
Lieutenant Commander PJ Vickers
25 Oct 1965
Lieutenant Commander G McPhee, OBE
27 Mar 1967
Lieutenant Commander N Ralph
05 Jun 1967
Lieutenant Commander SBE Courtier
03 Jul 1967
Lieutenant Commander G McPhee, OBE
16 Dec 1969
Lieutenant Commander GR Rohrsheim, DSC
03 Nov 1970
Lieutenant Commander DD Farthing, DSC
10 Jul 1972
Lieutenant Commander WS Lowe, MBE
03 Nov 1972
Lieutenant Commander IM Speedy, DSC
21 Sep 1973
Lieutenant Commander BC Crawford, DSC
01 Dec 1974
Lieutenant Commander JC Buchanan, DSC
26 Jan 1976
Lieutenant Commander BJ Boettcher
12 Apr 1977
Lieutenant Commander JM Leak
20 Oct 1978
Lieutenant Commander CF Daley
23 Jun 1980
Lieutenant Commander VT Battese
19 Oct 1981
Lieutenant Commander MA Perrott
11 Oct 1983
Lieutenant Commander MJ Lehan
17 Feb 1984
Lieutenant Commander CF George
10 Jan 1986
Lieutenant Commander RJ Luxton
04 Dec 1987
Lieutenant Commander PJ Cannell
08 Dec 1989
Lieutenant Commander PJ Machin
24 Jan 1992
Lieutenant Commander VEB Di Pietro
01 Jan 1994
Commander VEB Di Pietro
15 Apr 1994
Lieutenant Commander AFE Di Pietro
01 Jan 1996
Commander AFE Di Pietro
01 Jan 1996
Lieutenant Commander MT Jerrett
01 Jan 1998
Commander MT Jerrett
30 Nov 1998
Lieutenant Commander SG Elms
01 Jan 1999
Commander SG Elms
20 Nov 2000
Lieutenant Commander SA Harwood
31 Dec 2002
Commander SA Harwood
30 Apr 2003
Lieutenant Commander AM Whittaker
29 Apr 2005
Lieutenant Commander NMD Gunn
Apr 2007
Lieutenant Commander C Brightling
05 Jun 2009
Commander DL Dezentje, CSM
10 Jun 2011
Commander MM Shand
28 Jun 2013
Commander AC Moore
25 May 2015
Commander PJ Wynter

Further reading