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Last piece of an emotional jigsaw as HMS Gannet decommissions

HMS Gannet decommissions
5 February 2016
From the hangar which has been the home of their trusty steed for decades, sailors of HMS Gannet salute as the White Ensign is lowered for the last time.

Exactly three weeks after their final fly past around central and western Scotland, the search and rescuers formally called time on their unit’s illustrious history with an official decommissioning of their base at Prestwick.

Over a 44-year period, the fliers saved or assisted thousands of peoples at sea or over land, latterly in distinctive red and grey Sea Kings.

In its final year of operation, Gannet was the UK’s busiest search and rescue unit (as it has consistently been over the past decade; in 2009 its men and women performed an unlikely-to-be-surpassed record of 447 rescues).

This ceremony is the final piece of a rather emotional farewell jigsaw, with our official decommissioning here today

Captain Adrian Orchard, Commanding Officer of RNAS Culdrose

But with SAR duties transferred to a civilian firm on New Year’s Day, Gannet Flight is no longer required – nor too its sister unit 771 Naval Air Squadron from Culdrose, which decommissions next month.

Culdrose’s Commanding Officer Captain Adrian Orchard was the guest of honour for the Gannet Flight’s final ceremonial divisions and decommissioning ceremony – conducted inside thanks to the near-persistent foul weather which has lashed southwest Scotland this year.

“Over the years, HMS Gannet has enjoyed immense support the length and breadth of Scotland,” said the unit’s final Commanding Officer Lieutenant Commander Charlie Fuller.

“This ceremony is the final piece of a rather emotional farewell jigsaw, with our official decommissioning here today.”

Captain Orchard, a veteran Harrier pilot, thanked the military personnel and civilians who support them and wished them good luck for the future.

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