INAS 330 – The Harpoons
Among the most potent weapon platforms in the Naval inventory is the Seaking helicopter. This versatile and advanced multi role aircraft has taken modern age maritime warfare to theatres well beyond the nation’s shores. INAS 330 was commissioned on 17 Apr 71 under the command of Cdr MP Wadhawan. The squadron was initially equipped with Sea King Mk 42 ASW helicopters acquired from British Westland Helicopters Ltd.
On 26 Jul 71, the first Sea King landed on INS Vikrant. From then on the indomitable team of Harpoons and ‘Mother’ (the carrier) saw a series of firsts. The first operational ASW mission was flown on 18 Oct 71. On 31 Nov 71, while on an ‘Advance Screen’, a Sea King picked up a suspected submarine contact and carried out a Vectored attack for the first time. The Harpoons received their baptism with fire when hostilities broke out in 1971. Extensive ASW operations were undertaken and the Harpoons clocked over 156 hours of war effort. Over the decade the Harpoons continued to operate from INS Vikrant as the only front line carrier borne rotary wing squadron and earned the honour and reputation of being the most versatile and baleful of the whirly birds. The squadron got greater punch with the procurement of Sea King 42B which have an improved sensor fit and capability for Anti-Shipping strikes.
Seaking 42 B in ASW Hover
The squadron shifted to NAS Kunjali from INS Garuda in Oct 95 and has been based there ever since. As always the Harpoons continue to remain the eyes and ears of the fleet. Aptly named the flying frigate, the Sea Kings continue to act as force multipliers while operating from INS Viraat, Godavari and Brahmaputra class ships. The ship borne flights continue to execute multifarious missions in all weather – by day and night.