Royal Navy on active service in Afghanistan

Lowering of white ensign at Camp Bastion July 2014.jpg
Members of 854 NAS witnessing the lowering of a White Ensign at Camp Bastion. This marks
the final contribution of the last fully formed RN unit on operations in Afghanistan

(RN website photo by Cpl Daniel Wiepen)
RN website 25 July 2014 said:
...In Camp Bastion crew members from the Sea King helicopter 854 Naval Air Squadron witnessed the lowering of a White Ensign, marking the final contribution of the last fully formed Royal Naval unit on operations in Afghanistan. 854 Naval Air Squadron (NAS) played a vital role, flying the Sea King Mk 7 Airborne Surveillance and Control Squadron (SKASaCS) aircraft for more than 9,000 hours over 2,000 sorties to support troops on the ground as part of 903 Expeditionary Air Wing.

The Defence Secretary said:

“I am pleased to be able to pay tribute to the contribution made by 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.”

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 Headquarters, 42 Commando and 45 Commando 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.

As at 12 November 2012, RN personnel (exempt RM personnel) had been issued 9,051 NATO OSMs/clasps for service in Afghanistan. Many FAA, medical personnel (such as AB Kate Nesbitt MC and AEM Michelle Ping), etc., were deployed on HERRICK four, five or more times so this number doesn't fully reflect their contribution. Some RN/RM data was lost during transfer from the single service Medal Office databases to the new MoD Medal Office in March 2005 so these figures are likely to be underestimates.
To complete the picture for other Naval Service personnel up to 12 November 2012, RM personnel had been issued 8,336 NATO OSMs/clasps for service in Afghanistan.
They're back:

Sea King bagger in C17.jpg
Sea King 'bagger' in RAF C-17 transport
(Navy News photo)
Navy News 8 Aug 2014 said:
The Royal Navy’s 13-year Afghan mission is over with the return of the last front-line unit from the sands of Camp Bastion. Safely back at base in Culdrose are the Baggers of 854 Naval Air Squadron – the Navy’s eyes in the skies – flown the 3,697 miles from Helmand to Cornwall by RAF transporters, kit, caboodle, personnel. In doing so, it’s brought the curtain down on more than five years of continuous Bagger operations – and a mission for the RN which opened in the autumn of 2001 in the wake of the 9/11 atrocities.

In those 13 years, every single branch of the Naval Service has been involved; Tomahawk missiles from RN submarines in the first hours of the war struck Taleban targets, Royal Marines led manhunts in the Afghan mountains, there’s been a sustained presence on Operation Herrick since 2006 – at times two in every five British ‘boots on the ground’ in Helmand was Senior Service – the Harriers of the Naval Strike Wing were the angels on the shoulders of Allied troops, naval medics saving lives in hospital and on patrol, Lynx and Sea Kings supporting ground forces, and a rolling presence of personnel from across the Senior Service performing a myriad of jobs in headquarters and outposts...

Although the baggers are home and the White Ensign no longer flies at Bastion, there are still RN personnel in theatre supporting the ground effort – as they have done throughout Operation Herrick...
The wheel has turned full circle for 854 & 857 NAS:

RN website 12 Nov 2014 said:
After five years of land-based operations in Afghanistan, the Royal Navy’s Sea King Force has fully returned to sea, flying their helicopters from Royal Navy ships in the Gulf.

Whilst operating from Camp Bastion since May 2009, the ‘Sea King Airborne Surveillance and Control (SKASaC) Force’, nicknamed ‘The Baggers’, used hi-tech surveillance systems developed to protect Navy ships at sea, to detect and locate smuggling routes used by the Taliban. Flying Mk7 Sea King helicopters fitted with some of the most advanced radar and sensor systems available, the specialist aircrew operated airborne radar stations to provide a protective radar ‘shield’ around Coalition forces on the ground.

In five years of unbroken commitment, the Baggers helped to locate arms caches, tracked drugs shipments and followed the movements of insurgents. Now that the UK is drawing down from Afghanistan, the role of the Sea King Force in that theatre is complete..
RN website 22 Jan 2015 said:
One hundred and 55 repairs involving eight types of aircraft and 21,000 hours of work – that’s 1710’s achievements during their deployment to Afghanistan.

From 2006 to 2014 the unit deployed structural repair teams – with the peak of work seeing the five-man teams complete 15 repairs in one single month. Based at Kandahar airfield and then, from 2010, at Camp Bastion, the team dealt with aircraft both in ISAF bases and out in the field. Their eight-year, or 3,111-day deployment saw them work on Hermes 450 UAS, Merlin, Lynx, Sea King, Apache and RAF Chinooks (which as the workhorse of UK forces accounted for 70 per cent of 1710’s time)...

1710’s years in Afghanistan allowed the unit to develop its repair processes and specialist techniques. The knowledge they gained will stand 1710 in good stead for specialist structural repair support for future deployed aircraft.

More about 1710 Naval Air Squadron, including some quirky facts, here:

RN website 20 Jan 2015 said:
It is not unusual for a Royal Navy ship or unit to claim that it is unique. Some are strong claims – but few as strong as that of 1710 Naval Air Squadron. For 1710 NAS has no air traffic control. No runway. No airfield. No pilots.

No aircraft…

What it does have is expertise, allied to cutting-edge kit, which gives the Armed Forces an incredibly useful and – yes – unique resource to draw upon. There is not much these people cannot handle...
Glad to see the Naval Services, both the Royal Navy and the Royal Marines, will be represented in such strength.

RN website 12 Mar 2015 said:
More than 100 Royal Navy and 146 Royal Marines will be taking part in a commemoration event in London on Friday (13th) to mark 13 years of UK military operations in Afghanistan. Among them will be medic Petty Officer David Nicholl, of Lichfield in Staffordshire.

PO(MA) Nicholl deployed to Afghanistan from September 2008-April 2009 and lived in Forward Operating Bases in Lashkar Gah and Garmsir with Royal Marines, 1 Rifles, Gurkha regiments and the Queen’s Dragoon Guards.

“In a six month deployment I experienced every type of emotion there is and it will stay with me forever,” he said. Hopefully the things we did out there will stay with the people of Afghanistan and continue to make a difference to their lives.”
Royal Navy website 11 Mar 2015 said:
...In excess of 5000 Royal Navy and Royal Marines, including reservists, served in Afghanistan, working alongside their Army and RAF colleagues to make it a safer and more stable country...

I suspect the total is far higher than 5,000. Up to 12 November 2012, issues of NATO OSMs/clasps for service in Afghanistan comprised at least:

9,051 to Royal Navy personnel
8,336 to Royal Marines personnel

17,387 to Naval Service personnel in total
N.B. This includes Reserves.

New Posts